Rapport is one of the best ways to gain the trust of a person, student or adult. I have always found it easier with students, and harder with adults. It’s easier for me to build connections with my students than with my teachers, as it’s hard for me to find ways to connect to their interests. Instead, I have to find ways to be personable and friendly, and listen to their needs.
If there isn’t good rapport in a setting or atmosphere, something will feel “off”. You’ll notice it in the body language and spoken language of the others around you. They may be distracted, or there may be some form of tension in the room. Simply put, they’d rather be somewhere else at that point in time. I’ve been part of those meetings before and felt all of these. It’s horrible to be a part of. Without rapport, you’ve most likely no trust, and no respect.
On the other hand, building rapport means that these same activities are pleasurable, or at least, something that’s not dreaded. The language in the room changes, and the atmosphere is charged. You can tell when there’s rapport amongst those gathered, even if you’re a stranger in the room.
Rapport has always been my easiest way to connect to students’ interests in the past. I learned to play Minecraft because of up and coming students. I started using Classcraft one year instead of Class Dojo because I had a room of gamer kids. I always bought books based on the interests of my students in that particular class. When I passed out book order forms, I told them that if anything looked like we needed to buy it for the class library to let me know. The list goes on and on… My goal was to build those connections.
With adults, it’s harder because I don’t share many interests with most of my colleagues. I try to understand their world and likes, so that’s a start. Building rapport there is going to be more about talking about their classroom and observations, as well as their home life activities. Then combine that with breaking into the classrooms where I know teachers are more likely to be open to using new technology.
In this particular chapter, Dave shows ways that he began the year with building rapport with his students. I remember the one question I had the last time I read this chapter was how to have this big of an impact with elementary students. With older students, it’s easier to do these “big bang” activities because the bell dictates the class schedule, whether it’s 45 minutes or 90 minutes or something else. With this up and coming training, I’m curious as to how this applies to elementary, or what ideas other teachers may have.
Clearly, I need to figure out more ways to build rapport with the adults I work with, as this is an area of weakness. Hopefully I can figure out some new methods and improve on this area.