Connecting With Students

The romance has worn off for many of you.  My hope is that you aren’t at this point, but my experience tells me that at least some of you are.

The classrooms no longer smell of disinfectant, and now reek of an odor that’s a combination of sweat and Doritos.  Students are starting to forget the organization systems they started with, and in turn, they can barely remember to put their pants on in the morning, let alone to complete and hand in their homework to you.  Your loved ones know now that the only night you are really “free” is Saturday night, because that’s the one night you aren’t prepping or correcting or ruminating about school.  The days are getting a little darker and longer, and you are in the thick of SCHOOL MODE now.

Now is the time for you to make sure you are connecting with your students.  They have had a chance to get into the swing of school, but some of them are struggling and/or wearing a protective mask to appear perfectly “fine.”  How can you make sure all your students know that you truly “see” them as individuals, as well as members of your class?

Here’s a video that can highlight that very concept, and the repercussions of not knowing your students.

Here are a couple of things that The Edge folks have utilized in our former classrooms or experienced firsthand (and many of you certainly use):

  • Tease them (ONLY if they can handle it) lightly.  I had one girl who appeared so crabby all the time that I teased her daily about her crabby demeanor.  She still keeps in touch!  Nicknames are good too, but only with the certainty that the student is ok with it.
  • Show up – at a game, a performance, etc.  Any teacher who has done this knows that it means the world to a student.
  • Write a note via paper or email (keep track on a grid so that everyone gets one)
  • Make a lunch date – invite students to have lunch with you (occasionally, so that you keep your lunchtime as well)
  • Class unifying day – have everyone wear a certain color, or bring in a treat
  • Create an “All About Me” board – so students can share something about themselves on the board.  The teacher can use those items as an “in” to start a conversation.  Show and Tell can work the same way – even in secondary school!  You could even have a theme – music, poetry, photographs, etc.
  • Take a break – take students outside to run around, have them stretch for a few minutes, or even have them practice breathing (breathe in to the count of 10, breathe out to the count of 10, and keep increasing the number).
  • Hire a Helper – Need an errand run?  Papers stapled?  The screen pulled down to show a film?
  • Praise phone calls home – to parents AND students.
  • Pat on the back for a job well done.
  • Daily Board Affirmation – “I appreciate Matt because….” Again, keep track of who gets these so that everyone gets one.
  • Favorite something—bring in from home.  “I got this kitten poster free in the mail/from a friend and knew you loved kittens!   Please have/use/keep/take and hang in your room.”
  • Connect to an Activity – Based on some interests or skills you see emerging, encourage them to join a function, activity, writer’s submission/site, etc.

Congrats on the completion of the first month of school!


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