The nature of student-teacher relationships can make or break the learning experience. Trilok Sadarangani (’16) knows this first hand,“I have know my Chinese teacher for four years now, and she understands how I work, and I understand how she teaches and her expectations,” he said.
Sadarangani believes that the connection he has with Chinese Teacher Ting-Chi Li reciprocates to both teacher and student, creating a stronger learning environment. “The bond and relationship we have is personal and genuine, it really helps me in my studies and her in her teaching,” Sadarangani said.
Although Sadarangani has had a great experience in his Chinese classes, he does not find this to be true across the board. “My relationship with Mrs. Li is somewhat unique, for most of my classes, where I don’t know the teacher as well, it is harder to connect,” he said.
Casey Perdue (’17) found that a bad student teacher relationship can seriously harm both a grade and general environment in a class. Perdue feels that because the class was subjective that the negative relationship had an even greater impact. “[I felt the teacher] graded me harshly compared to other students, and I thought that was pretty unfair,” he said.
“I didn’t always do my homework, and I think that had an effect on our relationship,” Perdue said. He believes that conflicting personalities and lack of communication also contributed to the detriment of the relationship. Perdue could not connect with his teacher and felt talking to him was always difficult.
New this year, Physics Teacher Andrew Ringham has found connecting with students somewhat challenging. He believes that an “artificial barrier” between students and teacher exists at ASL, manifesting itself in the formal language students have been conditioned to use. “There is more formal language use from students from what I have experienced in other places,” Ringham said.
Although he believes that this barrier exists, and it can make communication hard initially, “they are just words, and the nature of the interaction is not completely dictated by formality,” he said.
Passionate about the importance of honesty and respect in the classroom, Ringham believes that communication equates directly to success. He sees a positive relationship as a cornerstone in the learning process. “If we can’t find a way to interact where we are sharing information in an honest and genuine manner, I’d never really be able to get a sense for what you know and how your thinking,” he said.
While communication, on a personal and professional level, is vital to building a good rapport in relationships of every kind, Modern Language and Culture Teacher Whitney Nuchereno believes this to be especially true in the classroom where mutual respect and positive interaction fuels the learning process. “For me it’s the people who influence you the most and care about you the most, that you are most inclined to work for and with,” she said.
She believes that her personality and openness in the classroom facilitates respect and positive learning, for both her and her students.
Nuchereno speaks, specifically, to the importance of one-on-one interactions with students, and how they build personal connections. “You get to know a student much better one-on-one, so I think those are really good moments and you get to know not only them but how they learn and it makes you a better educator too,” she said.
Although creating a good relationship with a teacher is important, Angie Kukielski (’15) believes that sometimes students’ informal interactions can become disrespectful. She thinks that some students become very casual with teachers to a point where they feel they don’t need to be respectful.
Kukielski has called teachers by their first names in previous schools, and she preferred it that way, but doesn’t believe that the last name formality creates any significant barrier between teachers and students.
She believes that the usage of last names is irrelevant to how you respect someone, but it can be strange when building relationships. “It can be weird when you know someone well, and you still call them ‘Miss whatever,’” Kukielski said.