Building positive relationships: New year tips for teachers


​​During the first week of school, it’s likely that regardless of the holiday time you’ve spent preparing, your ‘to do list’ is growing in length every day. So, what kind of tasks will benefit you and your students the most at this time of year?

We’ve spoken to our team of Teach Queensland Education Careers Ambassadors about their top tips for a new school year. One common theme emerged in all of their responses—taking steps towards building positive relationships is crucial at this time of year.

Building positive relationships

Here are 3 relationship building ideas that are especially relevant in first term:

1. Set clear expectations for effort

It’s important to make your expectations for behaviour and effort clear at the beginning of a new school year and to demonstrate these expectations with fairness and consistency. Primary teacher, Bree Seibel suggests using a Y Chart on the first day to for your students brainstorm what their classroom should ‘look like’, ‘feel like’ and ‘sound like’.

You can use discussions and activities about classroom rules and expectations to model open and respectful communication so that all students feel welcome and safe in the classroom.

The department’s Positive Behaviour for Learning (PBL) website provides a clear framework for effective teaching practices, including recommended classroom management strategies and downloadable posters.​. After you have met your new class group and have a sense of their group dynamic, you can review this useful information and determine which ideas will be most beneficial to you and your students.

2. Use ice-breaker activities and team challenges to learn about your new students

Playing ice-breaker games and completing team challenge activities during the first few weeks of school is a fantastic way to observe student personalities and overall classroom dynamic with a new class group.

Try a classic ‘getting to know you’ game like 'Human Bingo', where students move around the room to find a classmate who can answer 'yes' to a list of provided statements. Or set up a STEAM challenge, where teams of students construct the tallest tower possible using paper straws and sticky tack.

Observe the students who are natural leaders and those who prefer to sit back. Take time to find out what your students already know about specific topics as well as what they are interested in. These observations will assist you with relationship building and classroom management throughout the school year.

3. Establish positive communication with parents and guardians

Introducing yourself to parents and guardians at the beginning of the school year helps to establish an open channel of communication. You may like to do this by using a class newsletter, via email or at a parent information session.

Clearly communicate the ways in which parents can get in touch with you, considering the needs of families who may have diverse communication needs such as families from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, parents with disability, working families and single parents.

Take a look at the Parent and community engagement website and the Ways for schools and teachers to support parents to engage in their child’s learning fact sheet (PDF, 3.2MB) for more great ideas about effective classroom, parent and guardian communication.

For more information and practical ideas about getting started at the beginning of a new school year, visit the My classroom webpage on the Department of Education website.

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Last updated 25 August 2022