Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Growing Student Achievement Through Teacher-Student Relationships

Lindsay Hawkins, Lindsay Williams | Published: September 16th, 2020 by K20 Center


Classroom climate has a strong impact on student learning. Not only does a positive environment impact students, it also positively impacts the teacher. In this session, teachers will explore resources to develop a positive learning environment and engage in collaboration to apply to their classroom.

Essential Questions

  • How can perception affect student achievement and learning?

  • What are benefits of knowing student perception data?

  • What influences student perception of teachers and schools?

Learning Goals

  • Participants will be able to classify meaningful components of perception data.

  • Participants will be able to identify ways to interact with perception data.

  • Participants will be able to understand the importance of using student perception data to inform practice.

Materials List

  • Presentation Slides (attached)

  • The 7 C’s of Effective Teaching (attached)

  • 7 C’s Card Sort Strips (attached)

  • 7 C’s Card Sort Mat (attached)

  • 7 C’s for Creating Perception Surveys (attached)

  • Magnetic Statements (attached)

  • Student Perception Data (attached)

  • Student Survey of Teacher (attached)

  • Instructional Strategy Note Sheet (attached)

  • Agenda (attached)


Introduce yourself and the presentation using the attached Presentation Slides. Briefly mention the Agenda and the Instructional Strategy Note Sheet. Transition to the next slide and inform participants that new instructional strategies will be introduced to them throughout the session. These strategies are tools to support higher-order thinking in authentic ways. Encourage participants to use their Instructional Strategy Note Sheet to jot down ideas for how they would personalize the strategies for their classes. The presentation will allow participants time to reflect on the strategies presented.

Transition to the next slide, "Magnetic Statements," and inform participants that they are going to begin with an instructional strategy that is used to uncover beliefs, attitude, and knowledge about a topic by choosing statements or ideas that either repel or attract them. Draw attention to the statements posted on the walls around the room. Have them read all of the statements and stand next to the one that most attracts or repels them.

After participants have found a statement that they feel strongly about, have them discuss with the others within their groups why they were attracted or repelled by the statement. Then, allow each group time to report out to the whole group what was discussed within the small group.

After groups have shared, participants may return to their seats. Transition to the next slide and ask the question, "How can perception affect student achievement and learning?" Instruct participants to reflect on this question as they watch the TED Talk, "Every Child Needs a Champion" by Rita Pierson. Play the video, which is just over 7 minutes and 30 seconds.

When the video is finished, move to the next slide, "Magnetic Statements, The Remix." If time allows, participants will take part once more in the Magnetic Statements activity. However, this time they will choose to stand next to a different statement that attracts or repels them. Again, they will discuss with others near them why they chose that statement, and each group will report to the whole group what was shared within their group. Ask questions such as:

  • "How can perception affect student achievement and learning?"

  • "Has your stance changed after watching her video and and after better understanding the context of her statements?"

  • "What statement can you connect with more after watching this video?"

Move to the next slide, "Objectives." Briefly highlight the objectives for the session. This will provide a roadmap of where you will go together during the session and will let participants know what to expect from this professional development.


Display the next slide, "Multiple Measures of Data."

Say, "According to Bernhardt, there are four measures of data that should be analyzed for school-wide improvement. Which one do you believe we focus on the most?" Allow participants a chance to share out which type of data they believe their site focuses on the most.

Most participants will not say they focus on perception data. If this is true, answer with something like, "You're right. Perception data is often left out of the data we typically collect to improve our school and teaching. However, perception data is easier than ever to collect with the use of technology like Google Forms, Survey Monkey, and Mentimeter."

Move to the next slide, "Why is student perception so important?" Quickly highlight what John Hattie's research proved based on one of his meta-analyses:

  • The teacher-student relationship factor has an effect size of .72, which is classified as high yield on student achievement.

  • The meta-analysis contained just under 230 different studies and more than 350,000 students and teachers combined.

  • Teacher-student relationships ranked 11th out of 138 factors that impact student learning and achievement.

Move to the next slide and introduce the 7 C’s of Effective Teaching. These 7 C’s are found in the Tripod Project and the MET Project. Identify the half-sheet on their tables. They can use this reference sheet as needed while completing the next activity.

While transitioning to the "Card Sort" slide, pass out the attached 7 C’s Card Sort Strips and the 7 C’s Card Sort Mat. Explain that participants will work with an elbow partner to sort the perception statements in the appropriate places on the card sort mat. The perception statements may fit under more than one category, so participants may place the statements where they think they best fit based on the 7 C’s of Effective Teaching descriptions.

Allow participants 5-10 minutes to sort. If some groups do not finish in that time, it is okay.


Transition to the next slide and explain that you are going to have pairs share out the statements they placed within the seven different categories, beginning with "Caring." Instruct the whole group to listen and identify the statements they have placed in different categories. Also, identify those placed in the same category that were not shared out by the other groups (as in which statements did you place in that same category that other group did not).

Ask for a volunteer to share out the statements they placed in under "Caring." After they have finished ask if any of the other groups had any of those statements in any of the other C’s. Once they are finished responding to that, ask if any of the other groups had different statements under the "Caring" category that had not already been said. Have those groups quickly share out. Repeat this process for the remaining categories, each time asking those same two questions.

Ask teachers how they can use Card Sort in their classrooms. After a few share out, remind them to fill out their Instructional Strategy Note Sheet.


Show the slide titled "The Results" and distribute the Student Perception Data sample report to participants. Explain that participants will pretend they are Mrs. Myers and this is their actual class data. They will look over the pseudo-survey data. After participants have had a moment to analyze the data, transition to the next slide, "Analyze and Reflect."

Ask participants the three questions on the slide and allow a few to share out their thoughts.

After the discussion, move to the next slide, "Plan and Act." Briefly lead a discussion addressing these three questions on the slide with the whole group.

To wrap up the discussions, ask participants to consider how this type of survey might help improve their classroom relationship with students and how they might be able to make use of this information as educators.


Move to the slide, "3,2,1 . . . Go!" Use the instructional strategy 3-2-1 to wrap up the session and evaluate the participants' learning. Instruct participants to get three sticky notes. On the first sticky note, they will write three perception statements or questions that they think would be beneficial to collect data from during the first student perception survey. On the second sticky note, they will write two ways about how collecting student perception data can improve teacher-student relationships. On the third sticky note, they will write one question or concern they still have about collecting perception data.

If time allows at the end of the session, participants may share out their questions. This will provide an opportunity for the presenter to clear up any misunderstandings or misconceptions about student perception data. It will also provide an opportunity for the participants to reflect on their learning. Remind participants to also complete the Instructional Strategy Note Sheet.

Research Rationale

Teacher-student relationships are highly important and impact student learning. Knight (2013) argues that student learning will likely flourish when teachers recognize the importance of freedom (captivating), form (challenging), caring, and control; fostering environments where teachers build relationships with students within a learner-friendly culture rather than overpower them (Knight, 2013). According to Bernhardt (2013) there are four measures of data that should be analyzed for school wide improvement. He claims each of these four are important and none should be overlooked. He believes that student perception directly impacts the learning environment and teacher-student relationship (Bernhardt, 2013). John Hattie (2009, 2012, 2014) says that the teacher-student relationship is a powerful moderator of classroom management. A positive teacher-student relationship can prevent many of the behavioral issues within the classroom. According to Hattie's meta-analyses (2009, 2012), this relationship has an effect size of 0.72 and is ranked 11th out of 138 factors in its effect on student achievement. This is a cumulative analysis of 229 studies that included 355,325 participants (Hattie, 2009, 2012). Teachers are important variables in student learning and success. Student achievement is higher when teachers have a positive relationship with their students. Through those relationships, students are apt to be more engaged and have fewer behavior issues (Hattie, 2014); they are also more likely to attend school when they feel valued. Teacher feedback and opportunities for student-lead feedback are important in developing that relationship. It leads to trust, which allows students to feel safe to seek out help and further understanding when challenges within the curriculum arise (Hattie, 2014). Teachers also serve as role models when students don't have adequate role models at home. These relationships are crucial to student success and achievement (Hattie, 2009).