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Building rapport

Building rapport is the first step in supporting students at risk, to develop a helping relationship with them, to realize helping discussions and to achieve results in their personal development.

The basis of building rapport: first I give, then I get. First of all I offer patience to students and also to myself. Building rapport is a long process, but until we do not trust in each other it is not worth talking about problems. Building rapport is a mutual, slow familiarization process, a kind of domestication (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry: The little prince), which is initiated and managed by the teacher through the unconditional acceptance of the student. Teacher trusts and believes in his/her student’s will and skill for development. Unconditional acceptance means we accept the student just as such he/she is at the moment. We do not want to judge, change, help, we only want to get to know, understand and feel why he/she is like as he/she is at the moment. For this purpose we have to ask a lot and do not stop questioning. If they do not answer, continue to try, build a relationship. We have to find topics, questions interesting for them so they will be able to open up and answer. Talk about topics they bring in and do not put restraint on them. Students have to feel that they are interesting and important. When they feel this it is the moment of trust that we keep caring about and nurture.

How can we use this text above in teachers’ training?

  1. Compile the text in one column on the left side of the paper. Leave the right side column empty.
  2. Give each participant one copy.
  3. Give time to read the text individually than ask for them to write only questions to the empty right side.
  4. Form pairs and tell them to exchange their papers. Give 10-15 minutes to answer the questions mutually.

Ask them to sit in a circle and discuss unanswered dilemmas, questions.

User's guide, equipment:

  • Compiled text (one copy to each participant) 
  • Chairs (by the number of participants)
  • Pen (one to each participant)

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ESLplus - European Learning Space on Early School Leaving

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