Rapport Building Tips for TAs, SpEd Aides and Behavior Aides

rapport building tips for tas sped aides and behavior aides
Cross Country Education
September 13, 2022 01:36 AM (GMT-05:00)
Educator Resources

Rapport is the foundation on which student support is built. Rapport building, when done correctly, creates a positive relationship from the start of an assignment, which can lead to growth in the student academically, behaviorally, and socially. Below are some strategies for building rapport with the scholars you work with.

Learn About Your Student

  • Spending time to enthusiastically engage your students is crucial. From these interactions you should be able to find out what interests them, whether it’s related to academics or not.
  • Strike up a conversation or start a game with them. Begin to inquire about their interests. Their interests guide their choices and behaviors.
  • "Getting to know students and understanding their background and experiences are primary goals of effective teachers"1 and the same can be said about all who work in an educational setting.

Share Your Interests

  • Giving your students an opportunity to get to know you is equally as important in building rapport.
  • Inform your student of what you like to do in your free time or, if possible, find commonalities between your interests initially or as they arise. Just be sure to maintain professional boundaries and do not over share.


  • Using play to authentically interact with a student can build rapport from the beginning of an assignment. It is important to take into consideration the timing of this play and the age of the student.
  • Simple games like rock, paper, scissors can help break the ice with a student. Whereas games like two truths and a lie can help you get to know one another.
  • One study found that "regardless of age, gender, or level of compliance difficulties each child demonstrated some increase in compliance following introduction of teacher-child play sessions"2

Listen and Observe

  • Listening to interactions and observing behaviors can help you gain incredibly important insight into your students.
  • Give a student space during authentic social interactions like lunch or recess to understand how they interact with others.

Identify Reinforcers

  • "Reinforcement is any object, condition, or event that when presented immediately following a behavior, increases the frequency of that behavior."3
  • Finding what motivates a student can not only help them to reach their goals but it can also help you to connect with them.
  • This can be done by simply asking your student what they’d like to work towards. It can also be done through observation as you spend more time with your student.

Rapport building is all about the individuals you work with. "Identifying what will motivate a child to respond to, and ultimately enjoy, teaching interactions is essential to effective treatment. To do so, practitioners must establish and build rapport"4 and support their students by building the foundational bond of rapport.


1 Fisette, J. (2010). Getting to Know Your Students The Importance of Learning Students’ Thoughts and Feelings in Physical Education. Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 81(1), 42–49. https://doi.org/10.1080/07303084.2010.10598417

2 Levine, D. G., & Ducharme, J. M. (2012). The effects of a teacher–child play intervention on classroom compliance in young children in child care settings. Journal of Behavioral Education, 22(1), 50–65. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10864-012-9163-z

3 Toner, N. (n.d.). Identifying preferred reinforcers - | DDS. Retrieved August 25, 2022, from https://dds.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/dds/publication/attachments/Identifying%20Preferred%20Reinforcers.pdf

4 Taylor, B. A., & Fisher, J. (2010). Three important things to consider when starting intervention for a child diagnosed with autism. Behavior analysis in practice. Retrieved August 24, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004692/

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