Building relationships with students is important from the start. Here are 6 ways teachers can connect with students in the classroom before and on the first day.
Build Relationships with Students Before the First Day of School
Smiles, giggles, and high fives are a few of the wonderful things you might see on the first day of school, but you also might catch a glimpse of nerves, frowns, and tears. Many students come to the first day of school with a mix of emotions. As educators, we know the importance of building relationships with students at the sound of the first bell.
What if there were ways to start building relationships with students before the first day of school? Here are a few ways you can build relationships with students before and on the first day of school so that you can turn those frowns and tears into smiles and giggles.
1. Handwritten Notes
One way to start building relationships with students before the first day of school is to take the time to prepare a handwritten note for each of your students. Address the envelope and note to the student welcoming him/her to your class and drop it in the mail. We all know what it feels like to receive a piece of mail, so you can imagine the joy your students will feel when they are welcomed into your classroom with a personal touch.
Step it up: Make a phone call home, inform the families of your intentions, and then speak personally to the student to welcome them to your class.
2. Introduce Yourself
Provide your students and families with some fun facts about yourself. If you are asking for fun facts about your students, it is important to open yourself up to sharing some things about yourself. This will help you build reciprocal trust with the families and students and will go a long way in building relationships with students.
Step it up: Use your computer, phone or iPad to record a welcome video for your families. Send this in an email message before the first day of school.
3. Questionnaire or Letter From Families
Send an email or letter to families of each student asking them to answer a few questions about their child. Provide a questionnaire that ask about their favorite things. For example, ask about their favorite color, food, activities, movies, animals and more. Ask if there is anything unique or special that you should know about the student. But don’t stop there, once you gather this information it is important to act on it and use it in the classroom. Try this free first day of school letter by Teacher Thrive!
Step it up: Provide these questions in an electronic format, such as a Google form, so that you have the results in a timely manner. Check out these tips to communicate with parents effectively from day one.
Build Relationships with Students on the First Day of School
1. Welcome Them Every Day
Welcome each and every student, not only on the first day but every day after. Give a high five, a fist bump, or even a hug if you are comfortable and able. Be sure to use their name when welcoming them into your classroom. Hearing their name makes them feel even more valued and important and can go a long way in building relationships with students. The first step in building relationships once school starts is focusing on social-emotional learning and greeting your students helps build that relationship from the start.
Step it up: Develop a morning meeting routine in your classroom where everyone participates in greeting each other, sharing, and activities to build community!
2. Personalized Touch
Using the information you received from student families in the questionnaire referenced above, have something personal on each student desk. Focus on favorite colors and have a small bag of markers, stickers, and other fun items in each student’s favorite color sitting on their desk. If you experience a student that is struggling throughout the day, ask them about one of their “favorites” to help calm them.
Step it up: Using favorite animals as the focus, use stickers of favorite animals by their names when organizing students into reading or math groups.
3. Station Rotation
The first day of school can be overwhelming for students and teachers. Many times it is hard for a teacher to feel like they spent time with each student individually. To help alleviate this concern, try station rotations with some of your opening day activities. Have one of your stations be a teacher station where you get to know your students in a small group setting. This allows you to really tune in to the unique personalities and interests and needs of your students while building relationships with them.
Step it up: Try a few of the 30 get to know you games for the start of the year to build connections and relationships with students!
Each year students walk into a classroom for the first time with a plethora of emotions. Some are excited and eager to start while others are scared and nervous to take that first step. As educators, it is important to start building relationships with students as early as we can to help ease some of the fears and uncertainties many of our students have on the first day of school. By taking the time before the first day of school and on the first day of school to build these relationships, you are sure to give you and your students a safe and comfortable start to the new year.
Back to School Community Building Resource
Help kids get to know each other and build important relationships with the back to school social-emotional learning resource, the perfect companion to your start of school lesson plans. It includes mini-lesson ideas and engaging activities that build connections in the classroom and teach important social and emotional skills during the most important time of year!
More Ways to Foster Positive Relationships
Free Week of Morning Meeting
Try social-emotional morning meetings in your classroom with this FREE week-long resource! It includes editable PowerPoint and PDF slides, printable cards, and instructions on how to use. Click the image below to grab a copy.