Student-teacher relationships during school shutdowns

Did you have a favourite teacher at school? For most of us, there’s at least one stand out.

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Did you have a favourite teacher at school? For most of us, there’s at least one stand out.

The relationship between student and teacher is such an important one. It’s not just central to learning, it can also have long-lasting effects on academic and social development. 

According to this study, students who have strong, positive relationships with their teachers are more likely to reach higher levels of achievement compared to those who don’t.

In fact, students who work in classrooms with a higher level of emotional support have increased engagement in their learning. Students in these environments are also more motivated to learn maths and are more willing to help their peers learn new concepts.

Student-teacher relationships certainly look different in this new COVID-19 world.

While they are still a big priority, our relationships with our students are trickier to manage in a remote context. 

To help you connect with your students and maintain the great relationships you’ve already worked hard to build, we’ve put together our top four tips for managing student-teacher relationships remotely.

Show your face

Emails and chat messages are a really convenient way of keeping in touch with students. But if it’s the only mode of communication you’re using with students, you might find that after a while the connection can start to get lost. There’s something different about talking over the phone or face-to-face.

If you’re not running video lessons with your students, you should think about how else you can maintain that face-to-face connection. Perhaps you could film yourself telling a maths joke and share it with your students every morning. You could also film yourself explaining a certain lesson, or posing a question to the class that they can answer via chat.

Whether it be formal or informal, having your students be able to actually see you during this time is really important to maintaining the relationships you’ve worked hard to build with them.

Continue giving each student feedback in the way that works for them

Feedback is vital to a productive student-teacher relationship. It can help build trust and show students that you’re really invested in them as individuals. 

You’ll know what type of feedback works for each of your students, so do your best to continue to provide it in that way. That might mean posting about the progress of some students on a whole-class board or chat channel. It could also mean taking them time to send an individual student a message or even email their parents to let them know how well they’re doing.

For many students, receiving feedback is a big motivator — so keep up the praise in remote learning.

Maintain some of your favourite classroom routines and practices 

Do you take regular brain breaks during lessons? Or do a whole class maths puzzle every Friday? Often these routines and practices are really important to our relationships with our students as they give us the opportunity to connect over something fun. 

Think about how you can translate some of your favourite classroom routines or practices into a remote learning environment. Perhaps you could run your Friday puzzle via Zoom or through your school’s preferred chat system. 

You could also think about creating new routines that are more effective in an online environment. There are lots of ways you can connect with students remotely, so think about what will work best with your class.

Individual check-ins

Touching base with your students individually is still really important when you’re working in an online context. Every student should feel supported and know exactly how to contact you for help if they need it. Remember, your students are new to remote learning too and they may be feeling isolated not being in a classroom with their friends. 

Determine the best way to check in, whether it be by video, email or call and set up a process to do it regularly. The consistency can help establish a new routine that gives students structure to their day or week. 

But most importantly, by touching base regularly, your students will feel connected and supported. 

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