1. Education

Connecting With Students

Starting the School Year Right


Refine Your Discipline Plan And Classroom Procedures After summer vacation and time off, students often have a hard time getting back into the 'school' habit. Use the following to help you reconnect with your students.

1. Highlight Connections Between Your Class and Students' Lives

Connect Your Class to Careers

Help students make the connection between your course and possible careers by hanging posters describing the responsibilities of people in different jobs. Then refer to one of these jobs when it requires a skill you are teaching.

Alternatively, give bonus points to students who call attention to a connection between your lesson and one of these jobs.

Create an Interesting, Organized Classroom Environment

Given contradictory needs or distractible students, gifted students, and visual/spatial learners, a logical way to decorate a classroom includes:

  • Provide a stimulating display for students entering the room.
  • Provide educational "gaze" material for students whose attention wanders.
  • Minimize visual distractions for easily distracted students seated near the front of the room
  • Provide academic aides to help visual learners such as

    • charts
    • graphs
    • illustrations
    • mind maps
    • photography
    • sketches
    • story maps
    • symbols
    • visual analogies
    • visual organizers
    • visual metaphors
    • visual puzzles

For a few ideas on how to put this together, check out Classroom Decor and find creative ideas adaptable to middle and high school levels.

2. Connect Students with Peers

Warm Classroom Atmosphere with Icebreakers

Since many icebreakers consume a good bit of class time, it is ideal to emphasize them during the first week of school when it is impractical to begin regular activities.

Form Bonds with Teams

Create cooperative learning teams and assign team building activities after discipline has been well established. (See classroom management links below.)

To review essential elements of cooperative learning, check out these resources.

3. Help Students Connect With You Personally

Effective ways to connect with your students include:

  • Greeting students at the door with a smile.
  • Learning students' names.
  • Introducing yourself and include your motivation for teaching and your expectations.
  • Writing positive comments on papers.
  • Circulating the room speaking briefly to individuals during work time.
  • Have occasional personal conversation.
  • Introducing humor into your lessons.

Despite the necessity for using techniques that build better classroom discipline, avoiding techniques that backfire, and analyzing your classroom management when things go awry, caring teachers know building rapport and motivating students requires more than rules and procedures.

Check Handy Helpers for some beginning of the year resources:

  • Late work policy
  • Class Rules
  • Bonus Coupons (used for passes)
  • Cooperative Learning Info for students and parents
  • SLANT Teacher Pleasing Behaviors
  • Assignment Sheet
  • Seating Chart
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