Build teacher-student relationships

Core pedagogical principle #1

What does this principle mean?

Teacher-student relationships are central for student success and are the basis for learning. Building relationships with students is a process rooted in trust that requires fostering by teachers, in a responsive and ongoing basis, sensitive to the context and circumstance. Successful educators show concern and respect for students and are respectful of everyone’s backgrounds, beliefs, values, customs, knowledge, lifestyle and social behaviours. This can even have important positive impacts on student mental health.


  • Link material to the backgrounds of your students, paying particular attention to those in the minority so they have a voice. The Knowing Your Students report can be used to understand the make-up of your class, but be careful about identifying individual countries of origin.
  • Consider the diversity of students when selecting examples, readings, exemplars and even images. Students are affirmed by seeing content that they can relate to. Not seeing themselves reflected in it will reinforce imposter syndrome and a feeling that Sydney is not a place where they belong and are therefore likely to succeed.
  • Allow for failure or missteps and be responsive to these in your teaching – check in with your students, see if their problems and successes match your intentions


  • Encourage the teaching team to use their own and students’ preferred names and to be friendly and approachable – use ‘name tents‘ in face-to-face classes and suggest students update their preferred name and other information up to date
  • Use SRES to send personalised messages
  • Provide a welcome announcement and then regular low-fidelity but personal video or audio recordings
  • If the unit uses lots of asynchronous content, such as readings or videos:
    • Encourage active use of a discussion board
    • Hold regular, informal Q&A Zoom sessions
  • Run regular synchronous sessions where students are provided opportunities to interact with you:
    • Right before a large class, invite students to respond or chat using open-ended questions using a tool like Padlet or, for fully online classes, Zoom chat
    • Provide a backchannel as a safe environment for student questions
    • Hang around after the class to answer questions from both face-to-face students and those online