How do we maintain a strong bond with our online students? Do we have to start from scratch?
Virtual learning has gained popularity over the years and has moved into a rapid space at this time of global crisis due to COVID 19 outbreak where all schools have taken the option for remote education. It’s no easy task, all of us might say.
How do you build positive relationships with students virtually?
However challenging it may be, teachers all over the world made necessary preparations to adjust and to adopt the new normal setting in education.
Also, teachers have to use the distance learning modality with the utmost efficiency in order to reach out to all students regardless of who and where they are. Thus, this keeps the continuity of equitable and accessible education.
While online learning may not be a new setup, teachers still struggle to keep learners engaged and connected.
Building meaningful and strong relationships with students is a must. That is why I tried to scribble a few thoughts from my best practices to collaborate with you, my dear fellow educators.
Embracing the Online Delivery Platform
When the school year opened, schools adopted a new scale of learning – distance learning – and gained grand access to online education.
No matter how overwhelming this setup is, it should become the cutting edge for quality education where teachers and students continue to interact and stay connected.
Let the screens not put barriers to building positive good relationships with students. The COVID 19 outbreak made us harbor distance learning modalities to continue education and to help students to learn life skills despite all the circumstances.
With this embedded in our educational system, teachers like you and me have to extend our horizons to build a positive relationship with students during distance learning.
As educators, we’ve come a long way to prepare our learners for life. Therefore, we should take a big leap and get on with what’s new and accessible at the present time.
Aside from making our personalities attractive and pleasing on cam, let’s be more accommodating this time in order to build community in online learning.
How Do You Build Positive Relationships with Students Virtually?
5 Engaging Ways to Establish Rapport with Students During Distance Learning
Apparently, teaching in an online environment is ultimately different from traditional face-to-face learning. So, how do we reach out to our online students and build a strong relationship with them knowing that each one has varied interests and learning styles?
1. Always make the students feel your presence
Introduce yourself creatively. Like, you may begin with a funny anecdote that would quite relate to yourself. For you to show your genuine interests with your learners, post your self-introduction on screens and include “a bit of your inner self” like your likes and dislikes. I take this stuff using Animoto applications and it elevates my self-introduction.
Virtual learning should not mean isolation. You may not get connected with your students physically but your communication tactics will guarantee active participation from your learners even though you are entirely in a different concept than face-to-face instruction.
Allow brainstorming sessions among learners through appropriate online platforms that are accessible to your learners. Furthermore, as you present instructions, always look at the video camera for this will intensify your virtual presence. Do it and you will appear so natural and engaging.
Well, let’s take it simply, when behind screens, make sure your head and your shoulders are viewed entirely by your students. Adjust the camera and put your best countenance forward.
2. Cultivate a meaningful bond with your students
In virtual learning, your students are typically very mindful of your presence and so you have to make the most of it. If all of a sudden, a student raises a question, you have to be prepared for that. This will let them know that you possess a welcoming personality which enhances their confidence in you.
So, what type of online learning environment would you like to create for your students?
I fine-tune my ways by making genuine preparations for content as well as spots for fun and ice breakers. I get on their level by contextualizing the content so it will be relevant to my students’ experiences.
Also, letting them speak their thoughts and decisions will make them feel that they are the center of the universe. By having meaningful conversations with your students, you can ultimately create a healthy space for bonding and getting to know opportunities.
By doing so, your students will feel that they are indeed important and that they help actuate the learning environment you have designed for them.
3. Call them by their names and acknowledge their presence
Let your students know that they matter. Calling them by their first names will give them ease and comfort and so your interactions will be daunting no more.
Going live or teaching using Microsoft teams or Zoom may cause discomfort not only on your part but most especially with your bunch of students. You’ve got to help them adjust and feel comfortable while in a virtual learning environment.
Acknowledging their presence and asking how they are doing can make a difference. Dedicate a portion of the class hours for chats and light moments. Reach out to each one through a one-on-one chat or FB page and Group Chat.
With your innovative strategies, you can always apply group projects and presentations via an appropriate medium so your learners will collaborate and avoid the feeling of isolation. They need to socialize just like the way they did in the traditional face-to-face learning modality.
4. Let your students share and express their thoughts
Creating a healthy virtual classroom means letting students have a say! Allow them to make their decisions on certain matters and you are giving them rich opportunities in sharing and expressing their thoughts.
During your virtual check-ins, your students will feel a sense of belongingness of their voices are heard, and if you pay attention too. Being authoritative spreads the tentacles of losing connections and engagement. Hence, let’s avoid its presence.
When I got started with my virtual classes, I made sure that I was ready with my effective virtual classroom management plan. I absolutely know that this can never be an easy journey but with my ‘compassionate moves’, I am offering my students inspiring online learning experiences.
I make them active participants of learning and just mere spectators. It counts. It really is.
5. Celebrate celebrations!
Don’t forget to celebrate! Aside from the successes and academic achievements of our students, it’s crucial to celebrate important occasions in their lives. This will give them a sense of belongingness and will strengthen your bond.
Celebrating our students’ birthdays during distance learning means a lot! Take the time to create videos and greetings to give your students a sense of community. There are a lot of Canva birthday presentations that are quite interesting and attractive.
You can sing the birthday song while Live Zooming! You can also post a birthday card on your private FB page and encourage your students to create birthday cards and extend their birthday wishes.
That being said, you need to gather students’ information at the start. It’s part of putting up the foundation for a stronger relationship. Clearly, students will be more motivated to strive and to participate in the discussion if they are comfortable in the virtual classroom.
Hence, if you consider celebrating the most important days in their lives, that will make sense at all and can make a greater difference.
Aside from birthday apps on Facebook, you can request your students to record their videos and upload them to Flip Grid. This is fun and cool. The birthday celebrator would surely feel the important moment of his/her life.
Why Should We Establish a Strong Student-Teacher Relationship?
When learning is built on the foundation of a healthy relationship with the students, they will feel more comfortable and will be more engaged to learn. The end result will be increased student performance and academic results.
Moreover, once a good relationship is established in the virtual classroom, students are more ready to absorb the content or the learning materials. Also, engaging them with appropriate lesson content can hone their confidence and potential.
Thus, it’s really important to build positive teacher-student relationships in the virtual environment. You may be literally apart but you can be nearly together if you deal with your students by establishing strong student-teacher relationships online.
Plus, if a positive relationship is built, your students will be motivated to log in on time and not miss the class. It just takes quite an effort on your part as the virtual class manager. In practice, it can be challenging but it’s highly rewarding.
We are to put our effort, support, and commitment as teachers into this huge transition in education. Moreover, cultivating a strong relationship with our students during virtual learning will help us earn their trust and improve their confidence.
Teaching remotely might pose greater challenges for us and if these are not handled with sincerity, the upcoming school year will be uncertain. Hence, let’s take the present situation to our advantage by strengthening teacher-student relationships during distance learning because it’s crucial to our student’s success.
In all of this, we need our concerted innovative efforts as educators. Is there anything you can add to build a meaningful and quality relationship with our students in a virtual setting? Feel free to comment below and let me know your thoughts.