A Lesson to Build Trusting Relationships

This is the time of year when teachers are busy setting up their classrooms and preparing for the new year ahead. The focus is on designing welcoming spaces and thinking about ways to create a positive learning climate. In addition to the content preparation, student background and decorations, teachers need to focus on ways to develop positive, healthy relationships both with and among their students. These relationships are at their best when they are built on a foundation of trust. 

A Lesson to Build Relationships; Removing the Stumbling Block
In Building Trust in a Classroom I shared four ideas for making this a reality: rarely use the word wrong, develop an atmosphere of trust rather than simply talking about it, demonstrate emotional consistency and foster a joyful classroom. However, it is often so much easier to talk about these ideas than it can be to actually do them. I am often asked HOW. Teachers may fully understand the concept and want to do this successfully, but they seek to learn the best activities for building trusting relationships.

“The best activities” is subjective. Any expert teacher can suggest their favorites. And of course we should share these ideas widely with one another. But what makes any activity the “best” is a combination of a teacher’s personality and teaching style, student personalities, the dynamic between students, preparation and a myriad of other logistic factors.

I frequently share the activity in A Lesson to Build Relationships as it is terrific with older elementary students, middle school students and teens.

Here is another activity designed for young elementary and preschool-aged children.

Buddy Walk to Build Trust

Buddy Walk to Build Trust; Removing the Stumbling Block

  1. Design a simple obstacle course with objects and items that you have readily available.
  2.  Teach the word/idea trust to students.
  3.  Demonstrate the obstacle course to the children.
  4.  Pair children and explain that they will need to trust their partner to help them through the obstacles.
  5.  Have children work through the course.
  6.  Teacher should float through the activity using the language of trust to encourage, support and assist students as needed.
  7.  Pairs switch so the other partner can go through the course.
  8.  Bring group back together and reflect on the experience, highlighting the ways that trust was successful and brainstorming ways to improve where trust was more challenging.


  1.  For slightly older students (grades 3-4), one partner can be blindfolded as the other leads him/her through the course.
  2.  Do not blindfold any student who is fearful.

Again, the "best" activity for your classroom will be the one you work hard to plan, think through and enjoy along with your students. What are some of your favorite activities for building trusting relationships?

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