Establishing and maintaining relationships with students has always been essential. While teaching virtually, many educators explained to me the challenges they faced. From academic difficulties to students simply refusing to turn on their cameras, it all starts with the ability to build, create, and maintain a relationship with students. Here are some strategies to continuously incorporate relationship-building strategies next school year:
- Class meetings: Creating a safe space for students to discuss academic and non-academic subjects fosters community through teacher-to-student and peer-to-peer relationships. Teachers can also use this as a space for difficult conversations. Frequent class meetings build relationship skills such as communicating effectively, showing leadership in groups, and standing up for the rights of others.
- Office hours: Offering office hours for group and 1:1 student meetings helps teachers establish relationships with students. Teachers may have experimented with virtual office hour formats that they can take into next year, alongside in-person methods.
- Families and caretakers: Creating and maintaining relationships with families and caretakers this year presented teachers with challenges as well as opportunities for innovation and connection. As we return to the classroom, it’s important to involve families and caretakers in their child’s educational journey. Through positive interactions, two-way communication, and continuous classroom and school updates, we can build relationships with families and caretakers that benefit educators and students.
Establish a growth mindset
The power of a growth mindset is important in all teaching and learning modalities. One common theme in many 1:1 coaching sessions this year is that teachers noticed many students struggling with finishing assignments because they felt as though they couldn’t do it. Virtual learning may not have met every student’s academic needs, but there are several strategies teachers can use to establish a growth mindset:
- The power of Yet: When students express that they can’t do something, help them re-frame that thought to, “You can’t do it…yet.” Then, help students self-reflect and answer questions that help them understand why they can’t do the activity and the steps they need to take to complete the activity successfully in the future. The Power of Yet is related to Casel’s self-awareness competency.
- Create a safe space that allows for growth and risk-taking: Teach students about the importance of risk-taking. In coaching sessions, teachers have expressed how difficult it can be for students to share out because they are afraid of saying an incorrect answer. Some growth and risk-taking strategies for educators include: reflecting often, providing actionable and specific feedback, and celebrating success.
- Setting goals & reflective journaling: Help students to set academic and non-academic goals at the beginning of the week, and then reflect on their progress at the end of the week. Ask students to identify their successes and challenges and then elaborate and explain why. Have students share their goals with an accountability partner to build self-awareness, responsible decision-making, and relationship skills.
This year prompted educators to “think outside the box” to meet the needs of all learners in different learning modalities. While navigating the successes and challenges in teaching and learning, social-emotional learning was an essential topic.
As we return to in-person learning next year, there are several key ideas and learning strategies that educators can utilize to incorporate social-emotional learning. From building relationships to fostering a growth mindset, social-emotional learning has a positive impact on teaching and learning for students, teachers, and leaders.
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