Are you feeling a disconnect with your students, during distance or blended learning? Wondering how to keep building relationships when you can’t see students face to face? In this blog post, I’m outlining my five favorite ways to build connections and relationships with students even when you can’t see them face to face (or you have to keep your distance!)
Reaching out through Messaging
Whether you use Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, or another learning management system, there is likely a way you can reach out to individual students and/or an entire grade level. During distance learning this spring, I reached out to each grade level every week to let them know what we’d be doing in the lessons this week. I also made some videos for students, to say hi and introduce them to my cat! This was a fun way to encourage participation and build connections. I had students reaching out to me after each message, telling me how much they missed me, how cute my cat was, how much they enjoyed the lesson that week, etc. I even had one student who reached out to me several times, to sing for me, to show me her ukulele, and then to ask for help playing!
Most of my teaching this spring was asynchronous, but my colleague Katie and I did do a couple video conferences with 4th grade, and I did a couple video conferences with my band. Whether you use Zoom, Teams, Skype, Schoology conferencing, or another platform, video conferencing can be a wonderful way to “see” kids, teach them in real time…and just to ask how they are doing!
Flipgrid is one of my all-time favorite tools! It allows students to record themselves speaking, singing, or playing instruments. It’s a great way to check how well students are progressing on ukulele, recorder, etc., but can also be a wonderful way to build relationships. Whether you ask students an icebreaker question such as “What did you do this summer?”, a question about their favorite song, or a question about their favorite musical genre, it can help build connections, gather feedback, and more!
There are some really cool tools that I’ve learned about because of distance learning. The following platforms could work really well to ask students questions and get to know them better.
Every year, I say that I want to get to know my 550+ students more, and I think about doing a survey, but then I can never seem to fit it in. So this year, regardless of the format of my classroom, I plan on using Google Forms to ask students a series of questions, such as:
- What is your favorite thing about in-person music class?
- What was your favorite thing about distance learning music class?
- Do you play an instrument, or are you in any musical groups? If so, please describe.
- What other interests do you have?
By asking these questions, I can gather input that will inform my lessons, AND I can get to know students better. It’s a win-win! To get a copy of a sample Google form for getting to know your students (which you can then add to your drive and edit), sign up for my email list below.
Dr. James Comer once said, “No significant learning can happen without a significant relationship.” I love this quote—building relationships is so important, and can still be done in an atypical situation…whatever that might be for you.
I hope this has been helpful to you as you consider how to build relationships with your students. Happy connecting, and happy teaching!