Tips for Educators
5 Tips To Build Connections With Your Students Online
- Jan 5, 2022
The pandemic has been a real game-changer for both students and educators alike. We went from shaking hands in the classroom to virtual greetings all of a sudden; and it’s definitely been a challenge to adapt to this shift.
Think about how easy connecting with students was before Covid hit. You could give them the occasional pat on the back if they did a good job or sit by their side, as they worked on their assignments. It’s not so simple anymore. The best you could do now is probably send a thumbs up emoji on Zoom, if they get an answer right. But by no means is this enough to truly build rapport with them.
This is why many teachers today are struggling to transform their brick-and-mortar connection skills into something that is a little more apt for the virtual environment. If you’re running into the same hurdle, then these five tips might help you out -
1. Greet Them With Their Names
This one is self-evident, yet crucial. Addressing your students by their name can help them feel like their presence is cherished. It also helps them understand how much you value each individual student; and this is essential to build trust and rapport. You can also follow up your greeting with a couple of questions. Try to think out of the box, because the generic ‘how are you?’ isn’t really conducive to an in-depth conversation.
2. Give Them a Sneak-Peek Into Your Life
Connection works both ways, right? Just like how you should ask your students about their lives, consider sharing bits and pieces of your own. Talk to them about your family, bring your pets in for a quick virtual hello, or tell them how you’ve been spending your free time. During the lecture, you could also bring up funny anecdotes and childhood memories to engage them. All of this will add a human element to your classroom, thereby helping you build connections quicker and better.
3. Always Make Eye Contact
So, this works a little differently in a virtual setting. If you want to make eye contact online, then you need to look directly at the camera while speaking. This might seem a little odd in the beginning, because you’re probably accustomed to looking at the tiny grid of faces instead; but it’s the best way to make your students feel like you're paying attention to them.
4. Master the Art of the Soft Start
Instead of beginning your lecture on the dot, give your students a little time to settle in. Some of your students are bound to be a little late to the class, so instead of starting it without them, ask the other students to do a little virtual activity instead.
Here are a few activities that students can take part in virtually:
- Read an interactive article about the topic you will be teaching.
- Prep for the class ahead with a small group activity.
- Ask them questions that they can reflect upon, and discuss their viewpoints at the end of the class.
5. Give Them Feedback
It is important to include genuine moments of connection to create a healthy relationship with your students. One of the best ways to do this is by providing them with feedback on their academic performance. Audio or video feedback tends to have a greater influence on children, when compared to written evaluation. So, every time they complete a particular assignment, give them individual feedback in the classroom. This will also help the other students learn more about how to improve on their own assignments.
Building rapport with your students is a great way to gain their trust and help them thrive in a virtual setting. Make a conscious effort to personalise your interaction with them. This will make the learning process more enjoyable for both you and the students.
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