1. Join in on your kids social media chats. No, I don’t mean following them on Facebook or Instagram. I mean have a class Edmodo. Make a room for off-topic posts (I call mine Pollution), and comment on photos they add and jokes they make. Show interest in their home lives and an improved relationship will soon follow.
2. Hashtags and selfies. Kids love this! Challenge them to take selfies of themself playing outside with classmates and then post it on the class Twitter hashtag. This has two obvious benefits. One, they are playing outside and not sitting inside playing on a screen. And two, they are building relationships with peers in the class. Give bonus points for creativity and additional points per every extra kid in the picture. An additional challenge is to see who can be the first to have a picture with each classmate. Make sure to show these pictures every morning in class.
3. Partake in extra-curricular activities. Kids feel pride when they make a layup or learn a new dance move. Be there for them to brag and share. Treat your students like your kids and try to be there for them when they are participating in their passions after school. Hey, if you can coach, do it!
4. Tea-time with the teacher. This idea I stole from a great teacher in my district Sarah Dalzell. Kids love this too! Why rush your kids home at the end of the day? Make some tea, have a cozy corner and sit and talk about anything and everything for 15 minutes. Kids love this so much, you will have volunteers to make the tea and clean up afterword. Run this one-day a week but listen to your kids talk about it everyday! Psst- the day of the tea-time will be a calm day. Watch the number of participants grow!
5. Scarf and play. This kind of breaks the rules as it is during school-time. Every now and then scarf down your lunch and join in the basketball game, start jumping during double-dutch or grab a pencil and paper and sit with that kid sitting up against the school and drawing. Be a part of their lunchtime. Trust me, kids will love that you have taken time to join them.
We are all busy, and as the great Dean Shareski states, “Busy is not a medal of honour, it’s the norm.” I have three young boys, am running a second job and am in graduate school and I still make time. The beauty of the above points is that these five things take little time and effort. Take time for your students, treat them with respect, value their passions and voice and watch each child grow in confidence and your classroom environment flourish.