Updated: Jun 6, 2022
This is a perfect read if you like N*Sync and building relationships with students! My favorite part of being a professor of education is modeling pedagogy for future teachers – one of my favorites is the importance of building relationships from day one. Let me share what it’s like on Dr. Fecich’s first day of class.
Jams – It starts before classes begin! About a week before classes start, I’ll send an email to students. Students receive a copy of the syllabus, a brief description of the course, and a link to the Spotify playlist. They are encouraged to add their jams (as long as they are clean) to the playlist. As they enter the classroom on the first day of class, I have music pumping.
Greeting – During the first day of class, I greet students as they enter the classroom. I welcome them to class with a smile. The benefits of this are twofold: one, students know that they are valued and appreciated, and two, it lets them know they are in the right classroom, easing some stress.
Introductions – As everyone settles into their seats and puts their laptops on their desks, we begin with introductions. The first thing I do is welcome them to class, then we do introductions where I introduce myself, and they share their information such as their name, major, year, and something interesting about themselves. I have asked students to share their favorite teacher, their walk-on song, why they want to be a teacher, their favorite animal–just anything interesting. I have asked students to share in front of the class or illustrate their responses. I ask everyone to introduce themselves to the class and then see if anyone can name everyone in the class. The entire course will get five bonus points if someone can correctly call everyone in the class. This activity is not about earning bonus points (although it sets a positive tone) but about getting to know those around you who are also learning. Knowing who is around you and who is in your class is essential. Then you can learn from one another and maybe make a new friend!
Establishing Relationships – The first day of class is about getting to know each other. Besides introducing ourselves, we also play games like Bananagrams, Uno, Boggle, Apples to Apples, Twister, etc. These games allow students to get to know one another. We also have an activity called This or That. I create a Jamboard with two choices, and students write their names on a virtual sticky note and drag it to the choice. Students can write what they watch on their sticky notes, such as Netflix vs. Hulu, dogs vs. cats, or coffee vs. tea. It is fun to read the responses and have students explain why they voted as they did.
By establishing relationships from the beginning, I can foster respect and rapport between myself and my students. As a result, it sets the tone that I value them as individuals, and I want to see them succeed. The relationship-building process does not end on the first day or the first week. Continue getting to know your students throughout the semester. Some ways to do this include:
I am checking in on students each week via a direct message.
I am writing a note to the whole class reviewing what we cover during the previous week and what’s coming up for the week ahead with any due dates.
Get in touch if a student misses class and let them know that we missed them and what content they need to catch up on.
Throughout the week, I ask students questions about what’s going on in their lives outside of coursework.
you can attend the extracurricular activities of your students
I hope this handful of ideas gets you thinking about ways to continue growing and getting to know your students.
How will you put relationships at the forefront of your classroom this semester and throughout the future?