Evaluate your relationships

Use this checklist to evaluate patterns in your current relationships with your students. If you have implemented a specific discipline or motivation approach, does it encourage relationships in which the following are true? (Click here for a description of each category.)


___ I focus on prevention–not reaction.
___ I attempt to meet student needs in healthy, constructive ways.


___ I can motivate cooperative behavior without powering, threatening, humiliating, or using conditional approval.
___ I am more interested in encouraging cooperation than obedience, even though the outcome behaviors usually look about the same.
___ I want to empower my students within limits that do not disempower others.
___ I use my authority to set limits, offer choices, and decide what is and is not negotiable.

Success Orientation

___ I give clear directions.
___ I set clear, pro-active, and win-win boundaries.
___ I attempt to meet student curricular needs.
___ I assign tasks and activities for which my students are developmentally and experientially prepared.
___ I deliberately try to never teach over any student’s head.
___ I am able to provide challenging, appropriate tasks for all of my students, even though they are at different places academically.
___ I attempt to accommodate student preferences and learning styles.
___ I give students opportunities to self-manage.
___ I stay in the present—teaching and interacting in present time to build success for the future.


___ I can separate my students’ behavior from their worth.
___ I state boundaries as promises rather than threats.
___ My classroom is reward-oriented.
___ I think of consequences as the positive outcomes for cooperation or completion.
___ I look for the positive (what the student is doing right) and build on that.
___ I try to maintain my sense of humor.

Avoiding Double Standards:

___ I model the kinds of behavior I would like my students to exhibit.
___ I avoid talking to students in ways I would not talk to adults.
___ In terms of motivation, I recognize that students desire (and deserve) to experience meaningful outcomes as a result of the behaviors they choose, just as adults do.
___ I avoid making a big deal over issues and incidents that involve my students just because they aren’t adults.


___ I offer students a variety of meaningful positive consequences to motivate or encourage cooperative behavior.
___ I can recognize positive student behavior without reinforcing dependence and people-pleasing.
___ I avoid giving warnings, as well as delayed or meaningless consequences. (When a student misbehaves, I am willing to withdraw privileges immediately.)
___ I avoid asking for excuses. (I am willing to withhold privileges and rewards until students come through on their end regardless of their excuses.)
___ I have built in some proactive flexibility (such as requiring 95% of all homework assignments, rather than 100% or giving students until the end of the day to get work finished) so I can accommodate occasional problems that may arise without compromising my boundaries.


___ I recognize that students can’t always “leave their feelings at the door,” and I do not demand that they do so.
___ I can accept a student’s feelings even if I don’t understand or agree with them.
___ I have a variety of healthy outlets for students to use to get their feelings out (or be listened to) without creating problems for themselves or others.
___ I will listen and validate without giving advice, dismissing the problem, or interfering with the feelings.
___ I ask rather than tell to help students find solutions to problems without giving them answers or advice about what they should do.


___ I make choices based on my values and my students’ needs regardless of possible reactions from others.
___ I am able to deal with criticism without becoming defensive, apologetic, or reactive, and without explaining in order to secure approval for what I’m doing.
___ I maintain regular positive contact with parents.
___ I minimize potential conflict with documentation and communication.


___ I avoid using my feelings as a way to control or change others.
___ I take responsibility for solving problems that arise in my classroom.
___ I communicate positively and responsibly with parents.
___ I use administrators, support personnel, and parents as resources without attempting to make them responsible for my problems.
___ When I slip up and say or do something hurtful, I take responsibility for my behavior (rather than blaming it on something the student has done).
___ When I make a mistake or fail to keep my word, I avoid making excuses and apologize make things right.
___ I am able and willing to ask for what I want directly.


___ I model a commitment to personal growth.
___ I know how to set boundaries and am willing to do so to take care of myself.
___ When things get to be too much for me, I am willing to reach out for help without making others responsible for my feelings or state of mind.
___ I have developed a strong support network and am willing to use it.
___ I minimize or avoid contact with negative, toxic people and experiences.
___ I can use my mistakes and errors as opportunities for new learning rather than as excuses for beating myself up.
___ I have a variety of outlets and resources outside of the classroom for personal enrichment, relaxation, stress management and fun.
___ I acknowledge what I’m doing right and give myself space to grow and keep getting better!

Excerpted and adapted from The Win-Win Classroomrevised edition, by Dr. Jane Bluestein © 2008, Corwin Publishing, Thousand Oaks, CA.

© 1986, 1999, 2008, Dr. Jane Bluestein

Click here for a description of these characteristics.

This page is also available in French.

Please support this site: This website is an ongoing labor of love, with a fair number of expenses involved. Your support will help offset the cost of continual training, technical assistance, and translators, allowing me to continue to maintain the site, add helpful and inspiring new content and links, and keep the site ad-free. Donate here

2 thoughts on “Checklist: Characteristics of Positive Teacher-Student Relationships

  1. I am not a good student, but your this article taught me so many things about ‘being a good student’.

    Thanks for your awesome information.

    1. Wonderful feedback. Much appreciated. Best of luck with your continued education. I hope you manage to establish great relationships with your teachers (and doctors, and contractors, and tech support people, and…) It really does make that much of a difference!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *