Week 4- Build Rapport (Connection)


In a study of 30,000 graduates of American colleges, no matter where they went to school, had twice the chances of being engaged in their work and were three times as likely to be thriving in their well-being, If they connected with a professor who stimulated them, cared about them, and encouraged their hopes and dreams.

Rapport is developed through actions

The third essential characteristic the best online teachers have is building rapport with their learners. Rapport is not something you do by announcement, telling or directing.   Rapport is developed by your ACTIONS.  It is the result from the things you DO.

The relationship between the good online teacher and learner does not change even though they are at a distance. The foundation of building rapport with students begins with simple decency.The best online teachers reflect a strong trust in students. There is a belief that students want to learn and they assume, until proven otherwise, that they can.

How online teachers close the “distance” gap and build rapport

During the first week of the online course focus your activities on getting to know your learners and on your learners getting to know you.  Learners often reveal past difficulties with the subject matter, personal issues that may affect their performance,  job and family obligations and other outside influences that can vary from week to week. Knowing this information will help you to devise  strategies that to help your learners succeed during the semester.

Also, the distance gap needs to be bridged in both directions. It is not good enough for you to get to know your learners without them getting to know you.

  • Use the first week of the course for introductory activities to tell your learners about yourself.
  • Create an introductory video sharing your thoughts and stories.
  • Participate in all class discussions in ways that promote closer connections between all participants.
  • Be open with your learners.
  • Share your personal stories and experiences.
  • Humor is a wonderful for establishing openness and a level of comfort that nurtures the learning process.
  • Always address your learners by name.

If you are still wondering about the correct way, and how often you should communicate with your learners, you are missing a crucial point.It’s not about how often you should participate in an online discussion. It’s about how and why you connect with your learners to create presence and build rapport.

You don’t teach a class. You teach a student. 

Online learners must be recognized and treated as an individuals. To make personal connections and build rapport with each learner, collect and keep relevant information about each learner. Tell your learners often they are an important part of the course and are missed if they are not participating. Here are a few other factors to build rapport with your students.

Factors for building rapport

  1. Caring Is Crucial
  2. Be respectful.
  3. Be approachable.
  4. Be organized. 
  5. Be enthusiastic about the subject. 
  6. Ask about learners’ ambitions.
  7. Use open and honest communication.  There needs to be consistency between what faculty say and what they do.
  8. Care about your learners. Respond to learners as individuals. Show that you care about each of your learners  and their learning.
  9. Be positive and don’t take yourself to seriously. Apply your sense of humor and be open to points of view other than their own.
  10. Start your online course with a welcoming e-mail. Get off to a good start and let your learners know lets you are a human being and very excited about the upcoming course.
  11. Keep all PROMISES and due dates: It is EXTREMELY important that you adhere to the dates and promises given. Students respect for you as their teacher will plummet if they find you can’t be relied on.
  12. Reply PROMPTLY to all e-mail received. E-mail is your direct line to your lea students’ lifeline that allows for specific questions to be answered, confusions to be cleared up, and uncertainties to be quantified. Respond to all e-mail—if only an acknowledgement that you received it—and in a timely manner.
  13. Use asynchronous and synchronous communications for discussions, journals, projects, etc. These are the most important tool for your learners to readily see you are sincerely interested in each of of them. Don’t underestimate the importance of frequent communication in establishing a strong teacher–student rapport.
  14. Send numerous e-mails throughout each week of the course—and post them online (Laulima Announcements tool). This is the foundation of your communication process.  Include what needs to be done and by when, summaries of the previous week, highlight notable work,  provide compliments, wishes special occasions,  additional clarification, changes in the schedule, clarification on an assignment, or additional resources.
  15. Be a POSITIVE motivator. Provide compliments on learners work, insights, extra efforts,  outstanding projects or papers, etc.  Positive feedback is extremely essential  in motivating learners to do better. Don’t be negative.
  16. Get rid of the stuffy formal language. Use conversational language for learners to feel as if they are reading something written by a real person who is equal to them.
  17. Have fun. In your weekly e-mails you could include a puzzle,  joke, video, etc  that is fun and interesting. Think of other ways to have fun with the learners in your class to create stronger connections between everyone.
  18. Give students as much control as possible over their learning.
  19. Provide non-judgmental feedback and stress opportunities to improve.
  20. Provide many opportunities for learners to revise and improve their work.

Finally,  the best online teachers understand the characteristics of their students and adapt accordingly. Underprepared, first-generation students are different from graduating seniors. Students differ in their ability to adjust to college, the level of monitoring and scaffolding they need, the amount of experience they have with online learning and the course management system, and so on.

Be flexible

Finally, and most important, you must be flexible to build rapport.

  • Be flexible when you get to know your learners.
  • Be flexible when learners get to know each other.
  • Be flexible working around deadlines.
  • Be flexible creating an atmosphere that enhances learning.

Taken From:


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Format for commenting on other worksheets.  I am questioning the (INSERT INTELLECTUAL STANDARD) of your statement ____________ because _______.

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