In a remote classroom, forming connections with students is a challenge. Being unable to learn together physically makes it more difficult to get to know your students, or notice when one of your students may be having an off day. When we were in the classroom, it was much easier to spot when a child was feeling upset or acting different from their norm. It was also easier to intervene, ask questions, and help solve problems.
I know so many teachers who are struggling with this very issue right now. With all the energy and time put in for planning, making videos, holding class, taking attendance, making alternate plans when WiFi goes out…it’s hard to find time to check in with your students just to see how everyone is feeling. Then, when you finally do meet with your class, it’s a challenge to read their tiny faces on the screen!
Tons of Tips for Staying Connected
To help you keep forging those important connections with your students, today’s post is a roundup of strategies to help check in with your students, make sure they feel heard and appreciated, and also remind us why we decided to become teachers in the first place!
Start the Day with Connections
Superstar teacher Samantha Groess created a set of weekly check-ins on one Google Form for her high school students. (Bonus- they also help her take daily attendance!) Each day has a theme: Meaningful Monday, Technical Tuesday, Wednesday “Wonderings,” Talk About it Thursday, and Finally Friday. (She even wrote a cool little script so the spreadsheet answers are put into different day tabs…but that’s a tip for later in the alphabet.)
Do a Mental Health Check
You might also consider sending a daily survey (via Google Forms or other survey tool) specifically around how your students are feeling. For example, this teacher created a daily Mental Health Check that went viral.
End the Day with Connections
The end of the lesson is a perfect time to administer an check for understanding question or a question about how remote learning is working (try a prompt like Keep, Stop, Start).
This is also another opportunity to see how everyone is feeling. I’m stealing this example from a previous post (A is for Assessment), but Exit Tickets are a simple way to check in. A remote bonus is that in a Google Forms Exit Ticket, you get everyone’s individual answers and a class summary like magic!
Find Common Ground
Partner Venn Diagrams are great! And today, they can be done virtually in Google Slides, Drawings, or Jamboard. (I personally prefer Slides because you can lock the background image. But if your students are older, you can always teach them how to use the undo button.) Jamboard is faster and easier to use, but more on that in a few days!
Don’t forget to take part!
Kids can complete this activity with a partner, but teachers should also get in on the fun. Create a Venn Diagram to describe yourself, then share a forced copy with your students. Students can move images that you have in common to the middle, and add their own on the right side. Presto – you now know what you have in common with all your kids!
Want a FREE template? Of course I do!
Get to Know Your Class
A variation on the Venn Diagram that is individual is this FREE Getting to Know You Template. Students choose one of the backgrounds and add images that represent themselves. Don’t forget to make one for yourself and provide time to showcase class creations. Another option is to have your entire class paste their slides into one presentation and share it on your LMS as a slideshow.
The chart paper and sticky note graphs we used to use at the beginning of the year are a little harder to achieve remotely. Our Getting to Know You Graphs for K-4 can help you do this in a virtual environment.
Make Some Videos
On the subject of students learning about each other, my son’s biology teacher did a great welcome assignment using the popular program FlipGrid. He posted a welcome video and included clear directions. Then students posted videos with facts about themselves, watched other students’ videos, and were required to comment. It’s fast and easy to record a video response, too! Learn more about FlipGrid, here.
I’m sure a year ago no teacher thought they would become so comfortable with being on camera all the time. In addition to all those teaching videos you’re making, try and make a few quick ones just to check in with how your students are doing.
Give Some Love
Padlet is an visual and user-friendly tool for posting ideas, brainstorming, organizing information, and discussing. Why not create a Padlet Board just for appreciations or someone in need of a boost? Make sure to set it so that people can comment and give lots of <3. (SPOILER ALERT: There’s also a Jamboard version coming in Letter J!)
Ask Some Silly Questions
Utilize the discussion feature in Google Classroom or in your LMS to ask some silly questions too: What’s your superpower? What’s your warning label? What three books do you want on a deserted island? Would you rather always be dressed up or always wear your pajamas? You can learn a lot with these kinds of questions, and students can learn a lot about you too!
If you’re looking for more silly (and thoughtful) questions we have over 50 for you in this pack with our remote interview Google Forms.
When we go swimming, hiking, or scuba diving, we should always have a buddy. Remote learning should be that way too, especially since classroom connections are more of a challenge remotely. Assign your students a classmate buddy on a rotating basis: change it up every week or every few days. Buddies are responsible for checking in on each other at least twice during the week, either informally (if you prefer) or more formally (with sentence starters or a google form) and reporting out.
You can even jump into the rotation here and there, which will let you check in with students individually throughout the year!
Watching my husband spend two days on his Bitmoji and teeny-tiny Bitmoji Kindergarten classroom seemed a little over the top to me at first…but these fun things help students feel like their virtual world is a little more personalized. Take a break from the teaching and make a Bitmoji Classroom or a goofy meme to share with your kids!
We hope these ideas help you make better connections with your kids in this challenging time, and we’d love to hear what you have done or plan to do to stay connected with your class!Follow Complete Curriculum on WordPress.com