Going into the school year virtually will definitely put a damper on building unforgettable relationships with your kids. The 2020-2021 school year is definitely a unique one! After reading this post you will know exactly how to build and cultivate relationships with your students from a distance. Let’s get into it!
Get To Know You Activities
In order to build unforgettable relationships with your students, you can’t forget their names! Getting to know them includes learning how to pronounce their name. One way to do that is having a reverse role call.
Your first activity will be for students to create a Flipgrid or other type of video of their life in numbers. This will give you a chance to hear how they pronounce their name so that you can pronounce it correctly. Don’t forget to make a Flipgrid video of yourself so students can get to know you too!
Give students the chance to share anything they need with you with an anonymous get to know you activity! I like to use Google Forms to gather students’ interests where their name is optional.
Get on the waitlist to learn how to create an amazing Google Form in my course Google Forms and Sheets for Classroom Data Organization.
Another activity you can do with your students is allow them to create some sort of presentation about them. Give them question stems like:
- How many siblings do you have?
- What is your favorite TV Show or book?
- How do you spend your time outside of school?
- What holidays do you celebrate? Which is your favorite?
- How do you want to feel in school?
- What is your favorite part of school?
By having them create their own presentation for the first few days of school, it’s also giving them a chance to get to know the digital programs you are using. For example, if you use Google Slides often – have them create a Slide deck of their lives. If you want them to use Google Drawings – have them create a poster sharing information about themselves.
This is a great way to get students used to the tech you’re using with them so that they can understand it before you throw them information with it. Here is a list of student guides for various Google Apps.
Social Emotional Learning
Focusing on Social-Emotional Learning is going to be vital for this school year. Start working right away to build a sense of community with your students that you regularly maintain. Make sure that they see your face, hear your voice, learn little things about you and your home life that help them understand that you are a real person too.
Show them a picture of your cat. Ask them what you should have for supper that night (I always know what I’m planning to cook but I ask this fairly regularly and students LOVE to give their ideas.) Find out what they’re interested in right now and incorporate that into your math lesson or your writing activity.
Shanna used morning questions in class this year as a way to take attendance. When she started virtual teaching in March, she knew she needed to keep it going because her students loved it. She started a Flipgrid account and posted a video each morning asking the question. The students logged on and responded with their own video that the rest of the class could watch. You can click here for free templates for your Google Classroom and 26 morning questions!
Building Student Self-Esteem
Building up your student’s self-esteem is another way to support them. Compliment them, have students compliment each other. Ask them to share their strengths, talents and favourite things without focusing on areas that they need to improve (goal setting can come later!). I always tell my students they should have a list THIS LONG (picture my arms stretching from the ceiling to the floor!) of things that they love about themselves!
One way students build each other’s self-esteem is by having a Shout Out Wall. Alexandra has a bulletin board in her room that is dedicated to students giving each other shout-outs. It has post-it notes for students to fill out the last few minutes of class to give each other a shout out or anyone really! This was huge in building a community in a physical space. Students were always lifting each other up and it was so amazing to see the support for each other!
When remote learning happened, she took a picture of the blank Shout Out Wall and made it virtual. She used Google Slides and allowed all students to edit the slide deck. They knew the expectations of the original Shout Out Wall and carried them over to the virtual one. This was a great way to continue to build unforgettable relationships.
Students will benefit from having one-on-one communication with you. You can create Google Forms that will act as a check-in. You could do a daily or weekly check-in where students can explain if they are struggling with something (workload, at home expectations, etc.) but also where they can share exciting things with you just like they would in the classroom. Your response back to your students can be as simple or as detailed as needed!
All About Me and Google Slides Practice!
When we start a new school year, it’s always important for me to do two things: one is help students understand how to use Google Slides, but MUCH MORE importantly is building relationships with my kiddos! I’ve found a way to do both.
But first… how do I start my school year virtually?
On the first day of school, it’s super important for me to connect with my students in ways that bring them to the classroom community. I love using FlipGrid (just like Alexandra!) and have also found success in Seesaw. Students are able to create “get to know me” slides and can be creative with what they share with me! From favorite sports to what kind of learner they are, they can tell me (and their classmates) whatever they want! My favorite template to use (that’s right, it’s ready to go FOR YOU) is this one, and the kids love it. We use Seesaw first because my students are used to using Seesaw in prior grades.
I am also lucky enough to have time to do individual Zooms with each of my students. This seems daunting, but it’s so worth it. I ask them to share a little more about their Seesaw project with me. This way, they aren’t “on the spot” and have something to use for reference. (I should also point out that I make one as well, and I start first to break the ice). This lets me get to know each student a little bit better, and I make the interaction extra fun and bubbly so the students feel comfortable. These Zooms usually take two to three days for me.
Next, once my individual Zooms are complete, we meet in small groups and share our Seesaw again. This time, the goal is to share with their peers as I help facilitate. Some of my kids are gung-ho and can talk about themselves for days, while others need some support and encouragement as they talk.
After creating our Seesaws and sharing them with me and with peers, it’s time to move to a new project! I want students to continue to build a sense of community, and we also start to set goals and ask questions about the year. I also need my kids to start practicing using Google Slides. To accomplish this, I assign an All About Awesome Me project that is in Google Slides. Students type in boxes, manipulate emojis, and all around get to showcase themselves! They also get to share their hopes, their worries, and so much more.
I can see each child’s project, but these are special to each kid and I don’t want the other kids to have access to each other’s entire project. Instead, I ask each student to pick ONE slide they’d like to share with the class. This builds trust and classroom community, and I also have ALL of their slides on my end so I can get to know my students even better. We meet again in Zoom groups (which are mixed up from the last session) and students share their screens to showcase their selected slide.
This might sound daunting, but I want to point out that I am accomplishing several things at once: building relationships (which is the #1 priority), working with Seesaw, working with Google Slides and its tools, and working within Zoom. I get so much accomplished. You can too, and along with the Seesaw template I shared above, I also want to share my All About Awesome Me template so that you’re able to get started without all of the other hustle and bustle of creating something to use.
How do you Know You’ve Built Unforgettable Relationships?
Honestly, it’s hard to say. Building unforgettable relationships with your students is all about consistency. Seriously – don’t forget what you did with them in the beginning of the year. Maintaining the relationship you’ve built is key in making it remarkable.
I hope this post helps you gain insight into building and cultivating unforgettable relationships with your students. Here are a few links that we’ve mentioned in this post:
- Shanna’s 26 Google Classroom Templates
- Alexandra’s Google Forms and Sheets for Classroom Data Organization
- Digital Student Guides for Distance Learning
- Michael’s SeeSaw Template
As always, thank you for stopping by!