When I first began teaching as an online elementary teacher, I thought there was no way I’d be able to make the same connections with my students as I did in a brick-and-mortar school. I don’t see my students every day and my role as their teacher looks different than a traditional classroom teacher. My students are homeschooled students and I support the home educator, which is typically the student’s parents and family members. How can I possibly build connections with my students when I see them less frequently, and at a distance? Below are some things I do to build meaningful relationships with my students and their families.
Building relationships with your students
Find a way to stay connected. Research has shown that what keeps teachers in the classroom is high involvement and connection to students, especially in an online setting. These are some things you can do to stay connected to your students and families:
- Send an email to families once a week to provide updates and create a link that parents can access from their home computers.
- Email parents the night before your teaching days and ask how they are doing.
- Email during the week to remind them to complete assignments.
- Share your own life on social media and link to content that you would like them to review for their students. Ask parents to pick up supplies and tools that you have in class.
- Send pictures and videos of yourself with students.
- Be positive and upbeat.
Building relationships with your students’ families
Ask parents what you can do to better support their child. Find out what things are going well at home, what is difficult, and if their child might like to share something that the whole class could enjoy and learn from. Allow parents to respond privately through email or confidentially through a form on teams or google. Don’t forget to remind them that you are in this with them!
Tips & tricks for creating meaningful connections with students virtually
- Be “visible”. Your students will want to see your face. Try using Teams or Google Meetings to speak with the children before and after class, or just get together to have conversation! They will love getting to know you at home – seeing where you work, meeting your pets and children, watching you sip your coffee in your comfy clothes! This really means a lot to kids.
- Hold a class “Spirit Day” , where you all dress a certain way, or have crazy hair. It is fun to see a teacher act silly sometimes, and kids love to show off their style and creativity.
- Build Social Emotional Lessons Into Your Schedule.Your students may be feeling a range of emotions. Ask your students how they are feeling and provide them with concrete strategies for managing them. Be encouraging and help your students find joy joy the moment. Remember: nothing has to be perfect!
- Engage with students through interactive lessons. EduMEE offers a wide range of interactive and engaging lessons with live teachers. Children And teachers can share ideas as they learn through play. Click below to learn more:
Teachers can learn how to use the power of the social media, video and email to build strong relationships with students and their families. While social media may offer these important connections, it can also give students a lifeline. For more information on how teachers can use social media to build relationships, check out this social media use tool kit and social media best practices for teaching. Most importantly, as an online teacher, being authentic, open and honest, and encouraging to your students and families will go a long way. What are some ways you have come up with to build those meaningful relationships while teaching virtually?