How to build trust in students

April 22, 2014

Students feel more connected to the material when instructors trust them.

As a martial arts instructor, it’s crucial to earn students’ trust. No relationship thrives without it. One way to earn a student’s trust is to respect and have faith in them. Allowing students to play a major role in the teaching process builds a stronger instructor-learner relationship.

Known as student-centered learning, this approach shifts the focus from the teacher to the learners, according to North Carolina State University. Student-centered learning includes students answering questions, discussing, explaining or brainstorming during class. This approach provides a space where students feel appreciated, respected and validated. All of these feelings earn an instructor’s trust.

Student-centered instructors respect and accommodate student differences in their backgrounds, interests, abilities and experiences, Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy indicated. This means the instructor acknowledges that each student grasps concepts at different speeds with a variety of learning styles, has a range of abilities and talents and may be in different stages of development. According to TEAL, students understand information better and quicker when they have a stake in their learning and co-create the instruction process.

When a teacher and student are honest with one another, they create a trusting relationship. Everyday Life recommends instructors be aware of their tone and language, as it can affect student trust levels. With a genuine and non-critical language, students aren’t afraid to make mistakes. Additionally, teachers must be accountable to their students; instructors should follow through on promises to fully earn students’ trust.

One of the most effective ways of building trust is to spend time getting to know one another. Students will feel a stronger connection when martial arts instructors share stories about themselves and learners have the opportunity to contribute as well.