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Relationships are Everything: A Positive Approach to Behaviour that Inspires Educators and Motivates

Digital illustration of 3 teachers facing students with their arms up


The heart of education lies in the relationships forged between educators and learners. As educators, we must recognise that the foundation of a successful learning environment is not solely built upon academic achievements, but also upon the connections that allow for an atmosphere of trust, respect, and mutual understanding. It is through these relationships that we can foster a positive approach to behaviour management, inspiring both educators and learners to reach their full potential. This article explores the philosophical underpinnings of a relationship-focused approach to behaviour management and provides practical examples and strategies for Australian Deputy Principals seeking to cultivate such an environment in their high schools.

The Philosophy of Relationship-Based Behaviour Management

Understanding the importance of relationships
  • Relationships form the foundation of a supportive, nurturing learning environment.

  • Positive relationships between educators and learners foster trust, mutual respect, and open communication.

  • The quality of relationships impacts student engagement, motivation, and overall well-being.

Emphasising empathy and understanding
  • Empathy is the key to understanding the emotions, needs, and perspectives of learners.

  • Approaching behaviour management with empathy allows educators to address the underlying causes of behaviour, rather than solely focusing on the behaviour itself.

  • Building empathy and understanding contributes to a more compassionate, supportive learning community.

Encouraging growth and development
  • Relationship-based behaviour management fosters a growth mindset, focusing on personal development and continuous improvement.

  • This approach supports learners in developing resilience, perseverance, and self-reflection skills.

  • By prioritising growth and development, educators can create a learning environment where all students feel valued and supported in their journey.

Practical Examples of Relationship-Based Behaviour Management

Restorative practices
  • Restorative practices emphasise the importance of repairing relationships and addressing harm caused by negative behaviour.

  • These practices involve open dialogue, active listening, and collaborative problem-solving to address behaviour concerns and restore relationships.

  • Examples of restorative practices include peer mediation, restorative circles, and individual conferences.

Social-emotional learning (SEL)
  • SEL is a proactive approach to supporting students' emotional well-being and fostering positive relationships.

  • SEL programs focus on teaching students essential life skills, such as self-awareness, empathy, and effective communication.

  • Examples of SEL activities include mindfulness exercises, role-playing scenarios, and collaborative group projects.

Positive reinforcement and praise
  • Positive reinforcement and praise can be powerful tools for motivating learners and promoting positive behaviour.

  • By recognising and celebrating students' efforts, achievements, and positive choices, educators can strengthen relationships and boost self-esteem.

  • Examples of positive reinforcement techniques include verbal praise, written feedback, and public acknowledgement of achievements.

Strategies for Implementing Relationship-Based Behaviour Management

Cultivate a positive school culture
  • A positive school culture that values relationships, empathy, and growth is essential for successful relationship-based behaviour management.

  • Deputy Principals could work with staff to develop a shared vision for the school, emphasising the importance of strong relationships and a supportive learning environment.

  • Examples of ways to promote a positive school culture include staff training, regular communication with the school community, and modelling positive relationships.

Provide professional development opportunities
  • Educators could benefit from ongoing professional development and training to support their understanding of relationship-based behaviour management.

  • Training topics could include restorative practices, social-emotional learning, and effective communication skills.

  • Deputy Principals could facilitate access to workshops, conferences, and online resources, such as those available through the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (

Establish a supportive school-wide framework
  • A school-wide framework that promotes relationship-based behaviour management can help ensure consistency and support for all students.

  • This framework could incorporate school policies, procedures, and practices that emphasise the importance of relationships, empathy, and growth.

  • Deputy Principals could collaborate with staff to develop and implement the framework, ensuring that it aligns with the school's vision and values.

Encourage open communication and collaboration
  • Open communication and collaboration between staff, students, and families are crucial for fostering positive relationships and addressing behaviour concerns.

  • Schools could implement regular opportunities for dialogue, such as parent-teacher conferences, student-led conferences, and staff meetings focused on behaviour management.

  • Deputy Principals could also encourage the use of digital communication tools, such as school apps or email, to facilitate ongoing communication between all stakeholders.

Continuously evaluate and improve practices
  • To ensure the effectiveness of relationship-based behaviour management, schools could regularly evaluate their practices and make improvements as needed.

  • This process might involve collecting feedback from staff, students, and families, as well as analysing behaviour data and trends.

  • Deputy Principals could lead the evaluation process, collaborating with staff to identify areas of strength and areas for growth.


In the realm of education, relationships are indeed everything. By embracing a relationship-focused approach to behaviour management, educators can create a positive learning environment that inspires educators and motivates learners. This approach, grounded in empathy, understanding, and a commitment to growth, can transform the way students and educators interact, fostering a supportive community where all individuals can thrive. By implementing practical strategies such as restorative practices, social-emotional learning, and positive reinforcement, Deputy Principals can lead their schools in cultivating a culture that values and prioritises the power of relationships.


Want to know more about what we do for Educators at MyDiary?

MyDiary can be a valuable tool in supporting a positive approach to behaviour by providing students with a personalised paper diary that enables them to reflect on their actions and plan strategies for improvement. MyDiary's tactile nature can also help to reduce screen time and provide a break from digital devices, promoting a healthier balance between online and offline activities. Moreover, MyDiary can foster communication and collaboration among teachers, students, and families, promoting a sense of community and support, which is vital for building positive relationships and enhancing motivation for learning. To learn more about how MyDiary can support educators in promoting a positive approach to behaviour that inspires educators and motivates learners, please visit


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