Emotions and relationality can serve important pedagogical purposes. Paying close attention to the ways in which emotions are implicated in our pedagogical practice can aid in the development of connections with and between students, which contributes to fostering a sense of collectivity in the carceral classroom that encourages students to learn from and with one another. We situate this as a form of relational ethics, which we exemplify using the fi ve R’s (respect, relationships, relevance, reciprocity, and responsibility) identifi ed by Tessaro and colleagues (2018), and by drawing on our autoethnographic refl ections and emotional experiences as Walls to Bridges (W2B) instructors and student alumni (both inside and outside). Adopting a relational ethics approach to teaching and learning enables us to better identify the fault lines in how students are taking up the literature that is being studied together in relation to their own histories and lived experiences, which can lead to ‘teachable moments’ that foster dialogical exchanges amongst students. By embracing relational ethics, we suggest that the W2B educational model has the potential to build collectivity amongst students and instructors that transcends the carceral classroom and continues to impact participants both personally and professionally, long after the course has ended.