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Teachers stay connected with students during COVID-19

How to stay connected to your students during COVID-19

There is no way to quite explain how it feels to be a teacher right now.

After all of the weeks of excited preparation in the fall, and the hours of planning, grading, and reflecting that you have done for your students throughout this year, you are now forced to be away from your classrooms for an extended time, and things are, well… surreal. The classrooms are filled with evidence of your hard work on setting expectations and displaying your pride in student achievements, and now they are empty. Despite the lack of physical connection, teachers have the unique ability to bring stability and safety to an otherwise chaotic time for students right now. So, how can you stay connected to those beautiful souls that you are beginning to miss dearly? Here are some ideas:

#1: Keep your classroom together!
Communicate with your students through Google Classroom. You can ask students questions like, “What are you doing to stay active outside?” This encourages students to focus on their physical and mental health and connects the students in the group to each other.

#2: Become a Zoomer!
Use the Zoom video app to teach lessons and give everyone an opportunity to see one another. TIP: You can change your Virtual Background to make this extra fun. Teach from an island, or lead your lesson in front of a famous Monet painting.

#3: Check-in!
E-mail, call or snail mail 5 students a day to check in on how they are feeling.

#4: Send an email poll.
Send an email poll to the class once a week about something fun, or make it an academic question.

#5: Go Live!
Start a Facebook page, Instagram account, or Twitter account and offer a daily or weekly Read Aloud or lesson to your class. Students will look forward to seeing your face and hearing your voice.

#6: Show school spirit!
See if you can share a video on your school’s Facebook or Instagram page. Let the students know that you are thinking about them, and tell them how they can reach out to you.

#7: Be available.
Create office hours when you are completely available for student questions, emails, and video chats.

#8: Celebrate!
Continue to find ways to celebrate students as they work from home by shouting out specific individuals or sharing highlights of their learning efforts and progress.

#9: Blog Away!
Start a weekly blog where you tell them how you are doing and ask them to comment about their week.

#10: Challenge Them!
Send out a weekly challenge via an app like Flipgrid or a social media site. The challenge can even involve going outside and responding to the challenge with pictures or videos.

Sarah Towler, Abby Engelberth, Mary Sandvik, and Rosa Pynes also contributed to this post.

Carrie Walsh

Carrie is a Director of Instructional Support for New Classrooms, currently working with "Teach to One" partners in Illinois and Washington.