Time spent building classroom community and connecting with your students…is always time well spent!
Every good teacher knows that connecting with your students is more important than anything. We also know that kids don’t learn from those who they don’t like! I don’t “work hard” at connecting with my students. If I did…it wouldn’t be organic relationship building…and that is what I strive for! I am just intentional about getting to know them, listening to them, and being aware of what they like and dislike. When I returned to school during the fall of 2020, much was different. Not only were we in the midst of a global pandemic, students (and I) were waring masks, and the KIDS DID NOT WANT TO TALK! UGH! The struggle was real! Really real! I had no problem connecting with kids in the past. I was meant to work with teens! They were my ideal audience! I always prided myself on good relationships with my students. But it was obvious to me, that they just didn’t want to talk. I didn’t take it personally as all of my colleagues were experiencing the same thing!
On the first day of school, I always do a “I Want to Know Your Business” activity with my students.
This is a great way for them to talk among themselves and I get to know a bit about them. It is never a surprise to me when Starbucks appears as a favorite for many of my students. I use businesses from their “I want to know your business” assignment as examples and case studies in lessons throughout the year to make my lessons more engaging. I would use Starbucks in several examples as I would discuss target market, branding, cost of goods sold, and so on. For years my students have witnessed me teaching with a cup of coffee in hand. So for years, I have received one Starbucks gift card from students after another as Christmas gifts. I know, I know, many high school teachers don’t receive gifts for Christmas. I don’t get a lot, but over the years, I have accumulated a good amount of Starbucks gift cards. Denominations ranging from $10-$25…they all added up to over $300! Well….I don’t like Starbucks coffee! Give this gal a good ol’ fashioned cup of truck stop coffee and I am happy as can be!
In an effort to connect with my students and to get them to talk, I asked them to share “their Starbucks” drink with me. I shared my feelings with them about the dislike of Starbucks coffee and I told them that I needed to know exactly how to order it at the window as I felt intimidated. Well….I couldn’t quiet them! Many had one suggestion after another to share! I couldn’t keep up with writing their suggestions, so I had them put their suggestion on a paper cut-out coffee cup. This “coffee connection” was magic! Our “bell ringer” each day was a tactful review of my latest Starbucks beverage. A student would get an email selfie from me when their drink of choice was tried with a review. I am a fan now, of some great Starbucks treats…and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
The Coffee Connection
Selfies with students=CONNECTIONS!
Game Day Selfies!
Nothing says “good luck” like GAME DAY SELFIES! They have become another tradition in my classroom! I LOVE it!!!
There has been a few occasions when the selfie tradition needed to happen in the hospital. This young lady had an unfortunate accident. As you can see by our smiles, she was on the mend and a selfie was in order!
Reminding them who matters!
Sending home personalized notes to students is always a WIN! Yes…they are time-consuming, but nothing says “you matter” more than a hand written message. The above cards were sent home in the spring of 2020. I missed my students soooo much…and I appreciated those who tuned in for remote lessons that were not mandatory! I even hand-drew doodles on every envelop! (I had a bit of time while quarantined.)
Nothing better than connecting with your students on their (and your) birthday. I’m not sure how this all started, but “selfies with the teacher” have become a tradition in my classroom on each student’s birthday (if they so desire). I even let them post on social media if they wish (which is prohibited usually). I show- up on Snapchat several times throughout the year! But can I tell you something? It has become great for program promotion. Kids want to take classes from teachers that like kids! Enough said 🙂