When students are doing distance learning, it can seem like their only contact with their teacher is through a tiny box on their computer screen. Although distance learning is in many cases safer than in-person instruction, there’s a lot that’s missing from this relationship.
Students and instructors alike suffer from missing connections and pandemic-induced stress. When teachers are forced to rely on Zoom calls with everyone on mute and don’t have direct contact with students except for when they submit their homework, it can be exhausting.
In this article, we’ll focus on how K-12 teachers can reach out to students and encourage deeper connections even when they aren’t in the classroom together.
Why the teacher–student relationship is so important
There’s a plethora of evidence that speaks to the importance of educators’ relationships with their students. Positive teacher–student relationships combat chronic absenteeism, rates of which have doubled since the start of the pandemic.
In addition to helping keep students in classes, these relationships can help motivate students to learn and positively impact their development of essential skills like self-regulation, autonomy, and self-determination.
Fostering better teacher–student relationships during remote education
When students submit homework and complete assignments entirely online, it’s easy for them to forget about the face behind the Zoom screen. That’s why teachers need to be diligent about making every aspect of their approach to remote education personal, from in-class tasks to homework assignments and submission.
Here are a few ways to help make that happen:
Check in frequently
Many schools have an official policy of checking in when a student or family has missed a certain number of school days. Even if your school doesn’t have a formal policy on the books, take time to check in if a student is unexpectedly absent.
Show your face
It’s tempting to turn off the video after months and months of the same old Zoom classes, especially if an instructor faces nothing but a sea of black Zoom boxes. However, by keeping your video on and encouraging your students to do the same, you can help maintain normalcy.
If you’re tired of being the only one on video, tempt your students to turn theirs on by awarding prizes for the most creative background, the brightest t-shirt, or anything else you can think of to raise spirits and reinforce participation.
Transition familiar assignments to a virtual platform
Did you have a favourite group activity or regular assignment that your students are familiar with from your days in the classroom? Teaching core classes that depended heavily on in-person interaction can be challenging. With a bit of creativity, it is possible to transition those old favourites to your virtual platform. Participating in these routine activities will help remind students what it’s like to be in the classroom together again.
Encourage students to talk about and process their emotions
One of the most important benefits of the teacher–student relationship is how it can positively impact students’ emotional literacy. Developing the skills necessary to recognize and process emotions is essential to becoming more resilient, a life skill that has taken on new importance in this pandemic.
A great way to start is with a dedicated check-in time, held either daily or weekly. If your students find it easier to indirectly talk about emotions, start by casually dropping questions about feelings, problem-solving, and social challenges into lessons throughout the day.
Continue school spirit days even when remote
There’s no reason why school spirit days and other fun team-building activities need to stop just because classes are remote. Keep school spirit high by encouraging students to participate in virtual activities like a costume contest, dance-offs, or even a pet parade.
All these can be done online and help to encourage connections that will strengthen student-teacher relationships.
Crowdmark makes classroom connections easier
With so many teachers leading classes remotely, it can feel challenging to make real connections and build meaningful relationships with our students.
Fortunately, electronic grading software like Crowdmark makes this easier by giving teachers a centralized platform for their classwork, customized to suit their students’ needs.
The easy-to-use features make it simpler for teachers to design and disseminate assignments, then collect them for grading. Grading papers online and grading assignments has never been easier, with Crowdmark’s robust suite of grading tools that allow teachers to mark up each page with rich text, images, videos, and more.
Sign up for a free trial today to see how Crowdmark can make a difference in your classroom.