How to connect with your students

By | 2017-09-29T06:53:04+00:00 July 29th, 2017|For teachers|0 Comments

How well do you know your students? Do you recognize their interests and motivations? A great connection with students encourages open discussion, sociable rapport and in turn, student engagement. Students are more likely to be motivated when they see that teachers support and “get” what they do and enjoy. Here’s some ways to organically connect with your students.

Connecting with your students affects the way they learn

Connecting with your students is the key to having your classroom run smoothly. When teachers can better understand their students’ interests, they can give effective lectures, assign activities that their students will enjoy and use examples that students can connect with. Students will feel more comfortable discussing material, when the subjects become relevant and relatable to their own lives.

Besides, a class of students that is connected with the teacher will appreciate the effort and feel valued. Because of this, they’ll become more apt to return the effort and try harder with challenging tasks.

Take a look at some ways to naturally connect with your students

Sharing personal stories can help students to open up in class

Sure, “TMI” is very much a real thing. Educators must maintain a professional appearance when interacting with their students, but how can anyone expect students to open up to a stranger? When teachers tell their stories, students will feel more comfortable telling their own. Through this naturally approach to storytelling, teacher-student connections become stronger. Teachers might consider opening Monday classes with some witty anecdote from the weekend — and even making it a teaching moment!

To make the discussion about the weekend more engaging (and to motivate more introverted students to interact), teachers might task their students to make a creation about their weekend on Creatubbles. Teachers can create a gallery on Creatubbles in which each student shares their weekend creation, title and description into. Students who feel comfortable sharing can describe their creations.

iPad art

“Sunday” was made by Nerys in Canada, at 8 years old. Teachers are encouraged to ask students to share their own representations of the weekend.

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Earn your students’ trust by being available to them

In a class full of students, each one has a different way of expressing themselves. Some are comfortable sharing their stories, interests and dreams with the class, while others tend to keep to themselves. In order to connect with the more introverted students, teachers should make themselves available. This could mean that students can schedule one-on-one meetings, or pop by office hours to discuss issues in private. Students may be reluctant to admit that they’re struggling with certain topics, or vice versa — that they are excelling far beyond their peers. Teachers should provide a safe place to connect and communicate with students on a deeper level.

Give assignments that prompt your students to share

A great way to connect with students is to have them add their personal experiences to class assignments. For example, to gauge your language arts class’ reading and writing level (and progress throughout the year), a teacher might assign a personal essay, such as: what would your dream occupation be and why. In social sciences, teachers might assign projects or essays about current social or political events to understand their students’ interests. Even math and science lessons can include topical subjects, like community farming, public health, the city’s economy and so on.

Show your students that you appreciate them by listening

Teachers must listen to what their students are saying and encourage them to communicate. Teachers do not always have to moderate class discussions. Releasing that control may seem scary, but once students realize that they are allowed to share stories that they feel comfortable discussing, the opportunity for valuable, educational discourse is there. The doors are not open for constructive debate, critical thinking, constructing a position and problem-solving in some cases, creating a narrative and so on.

Teachers should also listen on a cultural and social level. The lives that your students live are far different from ones many educators experienced years ago. In order to truly connect with students, teachers should familiarize themselves with the current entertainment, idioms and trends for their age groups.

Creatubbles can help you make deeper connections

Connecting with all of the students in a classroom may not be an easy feat. Many students are shy to express their interests or simply lack the motivation to share their personal stories with their teachers and peers. Creatubbles lets students express themselves on their own terms. Students have the autonomy to find creations that spark their interests or are relatable to their own lives. They can then find inspiration for their own projects, or reach out to the creator to ask questions or collaborate. Teachers can get a glimpse into what interests their students, redefine lecture topics and create assignments around these topics.

Are your students crazy about space? Why not share a short movie? Discovery physics? How about a balloon powered rocket car? With Creatubbles, the educational possibilities are endless — and need we say, fun!

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Tish Seabrook. Copywriter at Creatubbles. Writer and former university lecturer. Interests: edtech, STEAM, arts integration.