Easy ideas for keeping relationship building your top priority

Teaching during a pandemic has created A LOT of additional work for teachers. Many educators (including myself) have advised teachers to pick top priorities and choose to let other things go. One priority that teachers SHOULD NOT let go of is making time for building relationships with students. This is just so paramount! So how can educators keep building relationships a top priority when they are so incredibly pressed for time?? Here are some super fast and easy ideas that take ZERO prep time (cause I know you don’t have any to spare) for keeping what’s most important from getting pushed aside by other required tasks.

The One-a-day Strategy

Choose one student a day (or one a week if you need to) to really focus on getting to know. When can you do this? A question or two before the bell rings, making a point to have a conversation on the way to lunch, having a deep conversation about their work during student independent work… it doesn’t have to be long or much – just a focus on trying to get to know the student a little more that day.

You may be thinking, “Only one student? What about all my other kids?” But as you get to know something specific about a student one day, you can’t help but build on that when opportunities arise, even if you are focusing on learning more about a different student on that particular day. That’s how our brains work – we are always unconsciously looking for connections… so once you take the time to focus on a student and get to know their likes, interests, pet peeves, goals, etc…. later (even on a day when you are focusing on growing in your knowledge of another student), if you come across something that will help or inspire or make another student laugh, your brain will make that connection to the other student for you! So what I’m suggesting is… go out of your way to get to know one student a day at a deeper level and you will automatically end up growing your relationship with other students, as well. The more you know them, the more you can connect with them! One a day!

Class Get-to-Know You Question

Pose a daily or weekly get-to-know you question to students and let them share their answers with each other. This builds community and connections among students. Just like adults, if students feel connected to and like the people they work with, they’ll be more productive and have more fun! Research proves that students learn more in classes they enjoy! Win-win! 

You may be thinking, “I don’t have time to come up a hundred get-to-know you questions.” Me either! But with checkin.daresay.io, you don’t have to! This nice little website (works like an app from your phone, too) gives you random prompts to pose to your students (or spouse, or children, or best friend) to get to know them a little better. There are even filters if you are looking for specific types of prompts. No-prep time and putting relationships first? Done and done!

Student Check-in

In the past, I shared this blog post on using a google form to check in with students daily. With the current 2020 learning curve + workload for teachers, this may not be something you can manage daily, but you could really simply and easily adapt this same idea and incorporate a weekly or as-needed feelings check-in with a one-time prep for the WHOLE YEAR!

Set up a simple Google Form asking students for their name, how they’re doing, and “Anything else you want me to know?”

You can share this form with students as a weekly recurring assignment, or create a QR code that links to your Check-in Google Form so students can scan and check-in whenever they want to share how they’re doing (or something else) with you.

Once you share the form with students, you’ll want to have easy access to their responses. If you click on the “Responses” tab at the top of your form, you can go through each student response individually, however, Google Forms also gives you the option to click on the little green Sheets button and create a Google Sheet that shows ALL of the responses on ONE page! Game changer!

Pulling up the connected Google Sheet allows you to look at ALL student responses at the same time rather than having to go through individual responses one at a time in response section of your Google Form.

You will most likely get lots of “fine’s” as responses most of the time – but that is what is great about this. You will be able to scan the Google Sheet quickly see who IS having a tough day or has something they really want to share with you and address THOSE NEEDS immediately. 

Even though the demands 2020 and a worldwide pandemic have placed on our teachers are tougher than EVER before, we can still find ways to keep our relationships with students a TOP priority!

More Posts from Meredith on Building Relationships:

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