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Remote Learning: How to Stay Connected to Your Students

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Custom Desktop Calendars at House of Doolittle

Stakeholders in the world of education will be discussing the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had -and still has- on the school system and its students. While this public health crisis has been profoundly traumatic and has ushered in an era of uncertainty, teachers most notably were challenged to create effective learning environments both in the physical classroom as well as the remote learning space.  

Being the exceptional critical thinkers and problem solvers that they are, teachers rolled up their sleeves and figured out how to transition to remote learning situations without their students being adversely affected.  

What tools do they use to stay connected to their students besides their trusted custom desktop calendars with their lesson plans and activities at their fingertips? When teachers are used to the daily physical connection with their students to build relationships and foster a culture of learning it can be difficult to translate those same feelings in a virtual classroom setting. Fortunately for our students, teachers have been diligent about collecting best practices that are effective in establishing relationships that are conducive to learning even if the classroom exists in the virtual world.  

The Importance of Staying Connected with Students 

During the early days of the pandemic, schools were uncertain about how long quarantines would last and how impactful possibly long absences from the classroom would be. This period of wondering did not last long as students spent most of 2020 and 2021 at home and took part in remote learning.  

Teachers knew immediately that to rapidly make this less-than-ideal situation work, they had to incorporate a more targeted effort in being connected with their students even if it was in front of a computer screen. Positive relationships between teachers and students produce enormous benefits including improved academic performance and increased motivation for understanding and completing assignments. Teachers wanted to ensure that these things would not be lost when facilitating a remote classroom. Switching to remote learning was disruptive enough without it diminishing the teacher-student connections that grow throughout the school year.  

Teachers also had to learn how to duplicate the feelings of safety and comfort that students have in a classroom which often lead to better behavior outcomes and student engagement. Knowing the benefits of building strong, positive relationships with students is key to classroom success, teachers had to rethink what this would look like in the virtual world.  

Best Practices and Innovative Ideas to Build Relationships with Remote Students 

Some things do not change even in the middle of a pandemic. All teachers have to learn their students’ names. This is so important to establish early so students feel recognized and included. Make sure that each student is greeted by name at the beginning of the school day and ask that each student unmute their microphone so they can say hello back.  

Just as any teacher would allow a few minutes for students to settle into a physical classroom it is just as effective to let remote students settle in. Offer a few minutes of relaxed conversation or play a quick game of trivia on the subject being taught to get their minds prepared to focus.  

One area in remote learning that contributes to student interest and engagement is adding the dimension of viewing their teachers’ world. Of course, they wonder about what happens behind the scenes in the lives of teachers. Do teachers have pets? Are they messy or tidy? Do they drink more coffee at home? The virtual classroom can give students an enjoyable glimpse into something they would not typically see. Ensure that students’ curiosity is piqued by providing an interesting backdrop- bookshelves, travel photos, or a trophy collection might spur some lively conversation. Ask students to include something of their own in their home classroom

Finding time to have private discussions with students significantly changed when classrooms pivoted to a remote setting. Make sure that students know you are available outside of the virtual class time to talk about assignments and any other issues they may be experiencing. Let them know that feedback is always encouraged and welcome. Both the classroom and the teacher still have to be a safe space for students to connect even when the connection is via a computer screen.  

And while building teacher-student relationships is critically important to student success, it is vital to encourage social interaction among their peers. One of the best things about being in school is forming friendships with those around you. Not having this outlet can lead to feelings of not fitting in and isolation. Suggest online activities that students can participate in outside of class time like a book club or even a virtual dance party. Maybe someone in the class has a talent they would like to share. The bottom line is that engaging with each other and with their teachers produces positive interactions that can lead to academic success. 

Think about what you can do as a teacher to build relationships with students. Sharing lists of assignments and activities on your desktop calendar as well as cultivating a visual space that encourages their comfort in the familiarity of your teaching environment. Pencils and paper, calendars and doodle pads, or virtual whiteboards – use whatever tools you have to make the virtual classroom as exciting as the one that exists within the walls of their school. 

The hybrid of remote and on-site learning is here to stay. Ensure that you have all the things you need for your students to learn by checking out our academic products today.