Developing a strong relationshipOne of the best things you can do to connect with your students online is to foster a healthy relationship with them. Focus on building connections by trying things like one-on-one meetings or weekly check-ins where you give them a prompt to write or talk about, and you discuss it together. These times of connection can help you to learn a lot about your students, including their learning preferences and personalities. You can also learn more about their home life and any struggles they might be going through. Having an open-door policy as a teacher, even online, can make a big difference for your students. They might be struggling with risky things like:
- Bad influences;
- Negative parental relationships;
- Unhealthy relationships of their own (if you’re teaching older kids or teens).
Read more: Transforming our schools through empathy
Encouraging a sense of communityWhether your entire class is online or some students are there in person while others are doing virtual learning, one of the best things you can do is foster a sense of community within your classroom. How can you connect all of your students in ways that make everyone feel involved? One of the best ways is to lean on technology for help. Online conferencing is a great way to keep everyone on the same page. They also allow you to keep daily classroom routines that everyone can be a part of.
Read more: 10 Top tips for creating more effective online learning forums
Even applications like SeeSaw are useful for asynchronous learning. Programs like these allow students to comment on another student’s work and engage with others even after class is over. Other programs, like BookCreator , take “book reports” to a whole new level by letting students collaborate online to actually create a book of their own – no matter where they are. Online discussions are easy to have using video chat platforms or even chat rooms. You can host these discussions after a major project, talk about a book, or simply check in with your class at the end of the week to ensure everyone is on the same page. Finally, consider gamifying some of your classroom activities. Using online educational games is a great way to connect all of your virtual students, but your in-classroom kids can connect with them, too. Online games can improve engagement, boost a sense of community , and teach your students how to work together and the importance of everyone having a role on a team.
Read more: Top benefits gamification can bring to the classroom
Getting creative with connectionsAs an educator, you already know how important it is to be creative. Some students don’t respond to “traditional” learning methods, so you have probably one out of your way before to adopt different methods and techniques that work for them. Consider doing similar things for students who are attending a virtual classroom. That doesn’t just mean adapting things to fit their learning preferences (though that’s important!). Rather, it means getting creative when it comes to making them feel like a part of something bigger. If you’re not sure how to get started, consider some of the following fun ideas:
- Hosting virtual birthday parties for each student;
- Having a “spirit week” with a different theme each day;
- Sending video postcards to your students during breaks;
- Including virtual students in classroom games.
Read more: 6 Steps that prove any teacher can create educational videos