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New to the Game

Tiana Brown

Tips to Build Rapport with Students for New After-School Educators

Are you a new after-school educator? If so, you might feel like an outsider.  You might witness sincere interactions between staff and students while wondering how to foster those types of relationships yourself.  Being your natural self is one of the best ways to interact with children.  You may not be the teacher who loves to give hugs; however, you may enjoy giving out tons of “High-Fives.” Don’t be afraid to create your own style. What is important to note is that the key to drawing children towards you is affirming that you’re interested in their well-being. Each positive interaction you initiate helps build a genuine rapport.  Gradually, you can build genuine relationships with your students by being patient, open-minded, sincere and consistent.


  1. Be open: Share stories, favorite songs, books and hobbies.
  2. Humor: Laughter unites people and reveals your humanity.
  3. Handshakes, High-Five, Fist Bumps: These are quick affirmations of connection between you and a student.
  4. Ask questions: Asking questions helps create a better understanding of a student.
  5. Follow-ups: Following up with a student can build trust.
  6. Show concern: Everyone needs someone to show concern when they are emotional.
  7. Smile until they smile: Smiles are inviting.
  8. Have fun: grab a hula-hoop and give it a spin.
  9. Listening: Lend an ear.

Building a solid rapport with students helps you teach and address difficult behavior.  When you are a new staff member, students may have their walls up. Depending on their current personal situation, they may be hesitant to open up to you. Students may be unsure of your intentions. By opening up and building a positive rapport with them, you reassure them that you are there to support their needs. Your efforts might be met with some resistance; however, resiliency goes a long way. Remember that tomorrow is a new day. Stay in the game, things can change when you least expect it.  Sharing a funny childhood story can also be a good way to break the ice between you and a child you’re having difficulties communicating with. So remember, there is no one way to develop a relationship with a student, being an after-school educator allows you the opportunity to be creative in how you support a child socially and emotionally.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Sesheida

    Excellent advice! Thank you for sharing those tips!

    1. CTAfterSchoolNetwork

      My pleasure!

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