By. Teresa Marchant
“Hand shake, high five or hug?” This was a typical greeting used by many elementary teachers. With worries of spreading germs, teachers and students have been asked to physically distance themselves this year. This means no hand shakes, high fives or hugs at arrival and dismissal times. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t build and maintain relationships.
As educators, we know the importance of building relationships and its impact on academic achievement. We need to “think outside the box!” By being creative and open to possibilities you still have ample opportunities to work on relationships even if you are behind a mask.
First, since we can’t physically embrace, then embrace technology! Consider the following as you begin to brainstorm other options to build relationships with students or staff.
- Hold 1:1 meetings and small group meetings. This allows you to meet the needs of your diverse learners and build relationships through meaningful discussions or collaborative projects.
- Learn and utilize new technology tools that allow you to communicate effectively.
- Establish expectations or “norms”.
- Provide timely and personal feedback.
- Add a few minutes before or after online lessons to give students time to express their thoughts or emotions. Students still need Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) moments.
- Generate engaging questions. These can build trust between peers and their teacher. They also are great icebreakers and can be a fun way to learn more about each other.
Next, remember to keep your cool! Working with colleagues may look a bit different this year. You may not be in the same location, but you can be on the same page. Online meetings and emails are great ways to stay connected. Just proceed with caution if you receive a poorly written email (in your opinion), step back and reflect before you respond. In a previous blog post, I talked about the importance of a supportive environment, open communication, and respect among staff and administration. Remember, Happy teachers=happy school!
Lastly, have a sense of humor! This year may appear daunting. Consider adding laughter to your toolkit to help lighten the load. Not only can it help build relationships, but it can help ease stress by releasing endorphins. A“joke of the day” is a fun way to add a little humor to your classroom. Remember, being able to laugh at your own mistakes is important, too!
This year will have a new set of challenges, but building relationships doesn’t have to be one of them. Whether you are behind a screen, full-time in the classroom, or something in between, you can still have a positive impact on those around you. Utilizing new ideas, keeping calm, and having a sense of humor are the keys to building and maintaining relationships with students and staff.
Why is this important?
These three big ideas: creative thinking, being calm, and the use of humor should be guiding principles as you develop relationships with stakeholders, as well.