Building relationships with students is already a difficult task, but doing so virtually? That can feel downright impossible! It is definitely something we should all be making a priority, though. Kids need us more than ever. Not only was spring 2020 chaotic and jarring, but now we are also coming off summer break. Summers can be hard on a lot of kids, even without all the stress of COVID. Building relationships should be our #1 focus right now.
Here are 6 ways you can build relationships with kids during online learning.
Set a goal to connect with each of your students one-on-one during the first month of school. Even if you have 200 students, that works out to less than 9 students a day. It doesn’t have to be a 30-minute Zoom session. It could be as simple as a text message or email letting them know you are happy to have them in your class and asking them how they are and what questions they have about the class. If you have time to do some one-on-one phone call or video chats, that’s even better! Use an online scheduler like You Can Book Me to have students sign up for a time slot for a phone call or video chat.
There is a big difference between “How are you?” and “How ARE you?”. No matter how you connect, the important thing is that students know you care and are there for them. Students are struggling with distance learning.
STAY IN TOUCH
Send weekly emails. I’m not talking about an email with their assignments for the week, but an email to say hi and check in on them. Maybe share a picture of your dog and ask them to reply with pictures of theirs. Share a funny story about something that happened that week in school and ask them if they can relate. Let them see you are going through the same experience they are and are human. They might open up to you more if they can make that connection with you.
Canva, a graphic design program, has free subscriptions for educators (read more here). They have a ton of templates that you could use to quickly make fun things like a newsletter or quotes.
Send students a survey to get to know them. Ask them about their likes, dislikes, learning styles, preferred name, hobbies, interests, and anything else you are curious about or think would help you be the best teacher you can be for them. I usually do this with index cards (read more about that here) and use the information I get back from students to build relationships with them. If I learn Ben plays soccer, I make sure to ask him what position he plays next time I communicate with him. If I learn that a bunch of kids like a certain singer, I’ll use that singer’s name in an example.
Here is a FREE Google Forms survey you could use. It’s 100% editable and would make a great first-day activity. Make sure you make a copy before you send it to your students!
Platforms like Zoom allow you to post a poll question (or multiple questions) for students to answer as they come into the room. These can be a fun way to get to know your students better. Here is a link to an article about how to create polls in Zoom and here is a link to a YouTube video that also shows you how to do it.
Not sure what to ask? Check out my conversation cards for Spanish class HERE.
Elisabeth from Spanish Mama has put together an amazing list of icebreakers that can be done either in the classroom or virtually with the modifications she provides. See the list HERE.
Jen from Spanish with Sra. Shaw has this digital icebreaker resource for Google Classroom or Pear Deck.
WEEKLY LUNCH DATES
Pick a day of the week and host weekly lunches with your students via Zoom, Google Meets, or whatever platform your school is using. Everyone can bring their lunch, hang out, and socialize. Make it less formal than a typical class. If you want kids to see your cat, awesome. Your own kid wants to join? Fantastic. Keep it light and fun. Let students get to know you and get to know them. It’s a good opportunity to check in with students and get a pulse on their well-being.
P.s. I’m not saying you should work through your lunch break. Still take your break!
I hope these ideas for building relationships help! How are you building relationships with students? Let us know in the comments below!
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