You may be asking yourself, "Why is it important to build relationships with students?" Remember, when you build relationships with students they will respect you and work hard to meet your expectations. Take time to invest in your students! This does not have to take up lots of time, but it does take time. However, please do not think of this as wasted time.
Build relationships with students with a Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting share time is crucial when working toward learning about your students! Morning Meetings provides students the opportunity to grow in many areas as individuals. This can be done by teaching how to process emotions, learn character traits, etc. I highly encourage you to start implementing Morning Meetings into your daily or weekly routines.
Having an effective Student Check-in form is so important! You can easily post or push out this link using Google Classroom or whatever platform you are using. This is a Google Forms resource so you can view students' individual responses.
Have you ever had a friend or coworker check in on you? No strings attached. They just wanted to check on you to see how things were going and to let you know they care. How did that make you feel? Do this for your students. Check in on your kids without something being wrong or after they have made a bad decision. Checking in on them "just because" will validate yourself to students and show them you care.
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Have you taken the time to really get to know your students? Not their achievement levels or how much they struggle with math, but do you know personal details about your students? Do they love Lego, Pokemon, or unicorns? If you don't know, start here! Start by asking questions and beginning to connect with each of your students by finding common likes or dislikes. This is how you begin to build relationships with students.
Playing games to learn student interests is a win-win for everyone! The Would You Rather Game is my top recommendation and is a fun, interesting way to build relationships with students.
Small talk is one of my favorite strategies to build relationships with students. Do students know you? For example, my students know I enjoy coffee each morning. They know this by observation and our discussions. Now, we do not have 5- or 10-minute conversations about my love for coffee. However, during homeroom, I have made a comment or two like, “My coffee is really good today. This has helped me have a great morning”. This is a just quick example of how I talk with my students about myself to start building relationships with students.
I am a math teacher. I love teaching math, which is completely shocking to my close family. Math was my least favorite subject in school, because I really had to work at it. It is my humble opinion that is the reason why I am a good math teacher. I have personal experiences as to how it feels when the math doesn’t make sense, and I know how the struggle feels. I share different stories with my students through my struggle. By explaining to students, “Hey, I know this is difficult. That’s why I’m here. Explain to me exactly what you do not understand.” Actually take time to understand their feelings and lean into that.
I know this way of building relationships with students may sound silly, but who doesn’t love a good joke? This step helps your students see your personality and that you know how to have fun. Promote fun in your classroom! Fun that doesn’t invite classroom chaos.
One of my most favorite building relationships with students activities is simple...play music! Music makes people happy, even kids. With digital streaming and the most wonderful tool by Amazon, Alexa, you can easily play music in your classroom. However, if you do not have Alexa in your classroom, consider getting one. It is a total gamer changer! After report cards are dispersed at my school, our class and I change up our music playlist. This is one of my favorite ways to build relationships with students because this is something they always remember. I do have expectations for our music. If a student doesn’t respect the song choice or poor behavior choices start occurring, we may have to go a day or two without music.
When the timing is right, reference stories or name drop one of your students. While teaching and providing examples for students, use their name or a sister or brother’s name. They will giggle every time!
Students of all ages love a good read aloud. If you notice students are off-task, tired, or need a brain break, take advantage of a fun read aloud. Choose the book yourself, or allow a student to make the selection.
BE SURE to includes books promoting diversity. Everyone should feel welcome and comfortable in your classroom. Making students feel important, loved, and welcome is so important! This is one of the most important activities.
How many fun Fri-yays have you incorporated into your classroom this year? How can you actively engage students while continuing to teach? During small group or center time, engage with them. While students are working for the whole group, be intentional with your engagement. Bend down by a student and ask, “How is your day going?” Or say, “I am so glad you are in my classroom this year!” Trust me, teacher friend, it makes a difference.
If you are looking for a GREAT fun, engaging, team building activity, this Save Fred Activity is just that. Digital Classroom Games are another option and perfect for virtual or face-to-face learning. Have you been racking your brain on how to build relationships with students virtually? Digital Classroom Games and Morning Meetings are the answer to your question. Each can be implemented whether you are teaching online or face-to-face!
This Save Fred Activity is one your students are sure to love. Save Fred is challenging and engaging.
Do your students know you are human, that you are not perfect, and that you make mistakes? If not, tell your students. I usually have this discussion with my class during our growth mindset discussion. Go through each poster and talk in-depth about each. Relate the posters to personal experiences. If you are looking for or are in need of growth mindset posters, click here!
Growth Mindset Posters are uplifting and encouraging for students. Give your students the gift of uplifting, positive thoughts each day. There are 15 posters in this resource.
How often do you ask or remind students to be good listeners or encourage them to listen with their ears? Guess what? I do the same for my students. I can remember when a student didn’t complete a lesson correctly and I was frustrated. After talking with the student and listening, the student and I were able to quickly fix the problem. After proving myself to the student and keeping my word of always being here to help, that student began to trust me. Later on into the school year, the student opened up to me about his home life. His story broke my heart.
Take a class survey at the beginning of the school year. Hang onto the results and use the students' likes and interests during the school year. Find themed activities and characters for your reading or math lessons. Football is a big hit in my small town, so I always have football-themed task cards and math games for students to participate in. I try to carry the themes of the season as well.
Teacher Tip: Check out the Dollar Spot at Target for small erasers. Target offers so many choices and themes.
You have the chance in one school year to make your students fall in love with school. Be the biggest and loudest cheerleader for your students. Be there during successful times and times when they have to work harder and need more support. Always tell your students, “You can do hard things!” Growth mindset posters are excellent options to help inspire your students.
Teacher friend, you are not always correct and your students do not mind telling you that! Don't forget you're human. You are going to become stressed, overwhelmed, overworked, and your to-do list is going to be longer than the time you have available. You are going to make mistakes and the need for an apology will come. When that time comes, apologize proudly, boldly, and publicly to your class. Allow your students the chance to see you are indeed human, you make mistakes, and you are the type person who isn’t afraid to apologize.
My hope is after you implement the strategies to build relationships with students, you will see a big change in your students.