Building relationships with your students and encouraging them to get to know their fellow classmates can help boost learning throughout the school year! A positive and supportive learning environment often comes when students feel comfortable with you, and with one another.
While fostering this strong classroom community may look different in a virtual environment, there are still fun ways to make it happen. Our Professional Learning Group of teacher trainers shared their strategies for remote relationship-building:
Tip #1: Break the ice
To set the community tone, start each day by having everyone answer a shared question. This gives students the opportunity to share more about themselves and get to know their fellow classmates. A few fun ideas are:
- What’s your favorite thing to do outside of class?
- Who’s your favorite artist or musician?
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
To ramp up the student engagement, you can have your students submit their own question ideas through an online form. And after each student responds to the question, they can select the next person to go, popcorn-style. Don’t forget that you should answer the question, too, so that your students can learn more about you!
You can also introduce a “GNG” time each day, where you encourage students to share something that’s good, something that’s new, or something that they’re grateful for on any given day. Allow students to choose which one of the three they’d like to share. Their answers will help them get to know each other and lighten the mood for the day.
Tip #2: Have some fun
To keep up the momentum you’ve built breaking the ice, you can plan fun themes for each week. For example, if you’re studying weather patterns, your whole class can wear grey on the day you discuss fog, yellow for sunshine, and blue for rain. Break out your own outfit and encourage students to follow suit by wearing their favorite clothes that match up with each class topic.
Or, take advantage of the virtual format by creating fun scavenger hunts at home. For example, you can hide a stuffed animal “class pet” behind you each day and encourage students to find it in your video background. Or you can have students go on a search of their own, like “the first person to find something that has five edges wins!”
You can also set up virtual “lunch and learns” that appeal to students’ unique interests. Host a book club, a crafting hour, or a sports chat on alternating days of the week. Before setting the schedule, poll students on which types of groups they would enjoy participating in, and bring the top choices to fruition.
Tip #3: Celebrate accomplishments
Celebrate your students’ amazing achievements when learning remotely! Incorporate daily shoutouts, either publicly or privately, to recognize students for their successes and motivate them to accomplish even more. For example, you can use IXL Analytics to recognize the student who has mastered the most skills each day. You can even place students in teams and set up a little friendly competition, with a fun virtual reward!
And as your class earns new IXL certificates, be sure to show them off on your class website or portal. By highlighting both individual and collective achievements, you’ll help your students come together as one fun community focused on learning.