Connecting with students has many great benefits. A positive student-teacher relationship promotes academic success, helps avoid negative behaviors, and promotes self-worth and good mental health. Studies have found that integrating social-emotional learning in the classroom has benefits for both students and adults that work with them.
3 strategies to connect with students
- Be Authentic- Create opportunities for students to share things about themselves, their likes, talents, dislikes, etc. The important thing when creating these activities and discussions is that you as the educator participate and allow your students to get to know you as well.
Examples and ideas:
- self-portraits: have children draw themselves and write down facts about themselves. Where were they born, how many people are there in their family, what is their favorite subject and why, favorite color, pets, etc. (Free printable)
- What makes a great classroom board: together come up with what makes up a great classroom, have everyone decorate the board, and say one thing they feel would make the classroom amazing.
- Two truths and one lie: games are always a great way to break the ice, have fun and get to know each other.
- Goal Setting: help your students set a goal and break down the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve that goal. This is a great way for you as the teacher to see what is important to your students and help them achieve that goal for themselves. (check in on these goals mid-year and again at the end of the year)(Free printable)
Being authentic also means you continue to learn and this means being able to admit when something didn’t work well even as the educator. Showing that starting over, regrouping and asking for help does not equal failure but rather it shows the ability to adapt and grow.
- Make yourself available- This one can be tricky for teachers because you not only need to make yourself available but also need to create boundaries so that you have time to recharge throughout the day. You can do this by setting specific times in which students can come for help or to discuss something. This can be in the morning before school, after school, and/or during lunchtime.
- Be a Champion– Celebrate with your class. This can be as simple as attending a soccer game where many of your students are playing and/or attending. This is a great opportunity to cheer them on and build connections outside the classroom and connect with families. Celebrate not only the obvious success but celebrate growth and effort as well. Being a champion for your students means being seen as an adult that authentically cares about your student’s success and about them as individuals.