In their training, student teachers are introduced to the effectiveness of formative assessment, which relies on the teacher having in-depth understanding of their learners. Ironically, this personal understanding is not always modelled in university sessions; with tutors struggling to learn the names, let alone the individual needs of their learners. In this action research project, an inductive approach was used to evaluate the development of student-teacher relationships through written dialogue, building on research on the ‘one-minute paper’. The teacher completed a reflective diary throughout the project and the students’ views on the value of written dialogues were collected by means of a questionnaire. Students were positive about the benefits of using ‘one-minute papers’, and content analysis of the questionnaire responses drew out themes around personal student-teacher relationships and how these can support student learning. This paper concludes by discussing the importance of making learning explicit for student teachers and using teaching approaches that nurture student-teacher relationships (such as ‘one-minute papers’) to empower students to become partners in the business of learning.