“No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.” by James Comer
Many schools across the country are not sure what school will look like in the fall. Building relationships is the key to a successful classroom environment that promotes academic success so we need to think about ways we can build relationships virtually. Here are six ways educators can start building relationships before school starts and six ways to continue to build them throughout the school year.
Before the School Year Starts:
- Create a “Meet the Teacher” video: In the video share a little about yourself and what students can expect to learn in your class to build students excitement. For example: In Science we are going to harness the energy of the Sun to make the best snack ever invented, S’mores!!
- Create a Scavenger Hunt using your LMS: Before school starts help students learn how to navigate the LMS (Canvas/Schoology/itslearning etc) your school/district is using by creating fun scavenger hunt to explore the components. Thought out the hunt add in things to get to know your students better in the discussion section or have them post an “assignment” that is fun so they can practice. For example: Write a top ten list of things about yourself.
- Have students create a Flip Grid: Have students share something such as one thing they want the class to know about them, a favorite book they have read or have them give answers to a “get to know” you survey. Then ask classmates to respond to each others flip grid posts. Make sure model by doing one too!
- Host a Virtual Open House or 1:1 Conferences: Provide a few dates and times for parents and students to meet you and have the opportunity to ask questions just like you do at a typical open house. For one on one conferences you could have a few questions for each student to answer and then have time for them and/or their parents to ask questions. A great way to do this is using sign up genius.
- Create a Bitmoji Interactive Classroom: This allow students to get to know you in a different way as you can share with them what would be on your walls if you were in a classroom. For example for me they would definitely see a Syracuse Poster! Check out this video to see how to create an interactive bitmoji classroom.
- Create virtual lockers: Have students create a space to get to know them as well by having them create a virtual locker. This could be something you add into your scavenger hunt as an assignment! Here is a copy of the Virtual Locker Template to get started created by Lauren Vining.
During the School Year:
- Morning Meetings: There is no reason you can’t provide morning meetings virtually with your students. Have the students come together before the day starts and share morning announcements and do a team building activity. This is also a great time to incorporate Social Emotional Learning (SEL) lessons in. Here are some great free sites for lessons and ideas: Common Sense Media and CenterVention.
- Host a Lunch Buddies: Lunch used to be one of my favorite parts of the day with students to get to know them. Pick a day and time when students can eat lunch with you and talk about other things besides school. During this time you will be able to build relationships differently on a Zoom call.
- Hold Theme Days: As students, part of the fun was having theme days and that shouldn’t go away. Have students participate in hat day, wacky tacky day or spirit week!
- Send a Notecard to Students: Everyone likes receiving mail. Send students a notecard about something you are proud of them for or bragging on them for doing something awesome. They don’t have to be long or fancy but knowing you are thinking about them will go such a long way.
- Chit Chat Time: Often times in school you get to know students during transitions. Let students know after a lesson you are going to stay on if they want to ask any questions. Or provide times where students can sign up if they want to ask you something more privately. This can also be done through email/or private message in your LMS was well.
- Shout Outs: Share authentic wins and jobs well done. This could be during morning meeting or it could be in a weekly newsletter email that goes to all families.
Remember to acknowledge that this “new normal” is challenging for all of us- parents, students, and teachers but we are in this together! As always I would love to hear from you in the comment section; how you are building relationships with students?