Monday, October 10, 2016

Kids Deserve It! Week 2: Chapters 4-6

I was so excited to get started last week that I forgot to give you your reading assignment for this week. We are discussing chapters 4-6. (Each week we will be reading 3 chapters, if you would like to plan ahead.) A lot of this week's reading is about connecting with your students. How have you connected with your students and built deeper relationships? How have you seen this connection really benefit a student (or maybe how it benefited you and your attitude toward a student)? For next week we will read chapters 7-9.

A few quick reminders about the book club and blog:

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  • If you missed week 1, please go back and read and respond to that blog post.

115 comments:

  1. One way I connect with my students is through bell work. Each day when they arrive, there is a very short prompt on the board (anything from: Missed you Monday: What was the highlight of your weekend? to T.V. Tuesday - What is your favorite TV show?). This gives me a chance to get to know their interests, likes, worries, dreams, etc. They write their answer on a post-it and stick it to an empty desk I have set up. I also try to have a short conversation with a few kids about what they wrote to show them that I am interested in what their ideas and likes at the moment. I have found a ton of ideas for this on Pinterest! Examples: "Moody Monday - When you're in a bad mood, what helps you?" OR "Wanna be Wednesday - What do you want to be when you get older and why?" This is the first year I've done this, and the kids love it.

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    1. Great idea Tricia. I love Pinterest! This is something I can use as a substitute as well. I love to have extra things in my bag as time fillers. This is perfect and a way I can try to connect with them. Thanks!

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    2. Tricia- I do something very similar. You should look up miss5thswhiteboard, it has a lot of ideas for you! Not only do the kids love to do, but I love to read their responses and gain more insight into their lives!

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    3. I love using Pinterest for classroom ideas!

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    4. I love that idea! Pinterest is a Wonderland that I often get lost in, so I tread lightly into it! I love doing those types of things with the kids to learn more about them!

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  2. At the junior high/senior high level, connecting with every student is a challenge, yet I try to be at the door or circulating in the room to greet them. This interaction is independent of any class work or behavior so it is a welcome connection. It doesn’t always change a poor attitude; however, it gives me insight to students’ outlook about a lot of things.

    Another connection that I started making a few years ago involves speaking to each student individually about his test results. I find a couple of details or overall ideas that a student did well and a couple that could be improved. This doesn’t take a lot of time as I schedule it to coincide with the class working in groups or independently so that I can have some direct time with each. While discussing a test doesn’t meet students at a deep personal level, they seem more engaged when I speak quietly with each one. I know they appreciate it in a subtle way when they ask on the day(s) following a test if that is the day I am going to talk to them about their test.

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    1. I agree that conferencing with kids has a deep impact on them. Whether that be discussing a test over a novel, their NWEA results, or I use a program called PLATO to help them improve their reading comprehension, and I conference with kids quarterly about their progress and improvement in that program. It's just another way to show them you care about their progress and be able to celebrate their hard work.

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    2. I agree that talking with kids individually about their test results has a huge impact! That transparency and honesty is something that I think they really appreciate. The fact that someone takes the time to be genuine with them and to take the time to explain to them how close they are to passing and what little changes they can make to improve their score is HUGE! What seems like a little thing to us as teacher can have an enormous impact on their self-confidence and can make all the difference to them.

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  3. It is a huge challenge to connect with students at the high school level. I have a rule find one thing out about what the students interest is out of school and do everything possible to use that to connect so things go better in the classroom. It could be a hobby, sport, car..... once you find and then in turn show the student that you care about them in something other than the subject matter I feel you have a much better chance of connecting with them. I also find sharing your interests and what I call letting students see your human and that you breath oxygen.
    This year I am also trying more group work I have felt that it is helping me to get to understand and connect with my students as I go around and answer questions in a small group atmoshere.

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    1. I agree that high school students are a little more of a challenge. I have a unique position where I work with students ranging from kindergarten through high school. The one consistent thing I have found is that once the students feel that you truly care about them you can then usually develop a positive learning environment.

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    2. I like the idea of using group work to have more intimate conversations with students. I find the prep work is well worth the outcome.

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    3. I find that being out in the hallway during passing periods is a great way to connect with my high school students. Once you know their interests, it's easy to see them in the hall and ask, "Did you catch that game last night?" etc.

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    4. I agree that being in the hallway is a great way to see what kids are interested in! Just by seeing who they interact with, how they dress, the way they interact with other teachers, etc, can be an opening to building a rapport with a student. Any slight opening that you can get with a student, even if you don't have them in class, is an opportunity.

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  4. I pay particular attention to what my students wear, the shoes on their feet, what they talk about at lunch, the music they listen too, and what extracurricular activities they are involved in. I make it a point every day to discuss one of their "likes" with them in an informal setting. For example, if a student wears an Indiana Pacers shirt to school, I will ask him about the game last night or, "What do you think about Paul George's injury?" Doing this allows me to sometimes form a closer bond with students, and shows them I am a real person, and interested in their lives outside of the classroom.

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    1. I do the same thing! Each day as the kiddos enter a room I say, "hello!" I give them a huge hug and make a comment about something/anything that makes them feel special or important! I so agree with you on creating a bond with the kiddos!

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    2. I agree! We often forget that we teachers may sometimes be one of the first faces they see in the morning because the student may get themselves up and ready in the morning to come to school. Being that positive face in the morning to greet them, ask them about their day, or some other caring gesture can go a long way to making their day go better.

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  5. “When you listen to a child, you give him back his voice.” I whole heartily agree with this statement. We know as adults how important it is to have our family, friends and peers value what we have to contribute to a conversation and that is the same for our students. I have a student who loves to talk and I have made a deal with him that he can always talk with me during free time. Today I even set a timer so that he could have my undivided attention without any of my other students interrupting. This student got the biggest smile on his face and I heard all about his new game he played this past weekend. I love giving my students special time. I have also made the good phone calls home and what I really like to do is have the student present when possible to hear the praise. I have also made behavior contracts with my students where I will bring in fast food for lunch and eat with them. I agree that our students need to understand that we care about them as individuals. I always sit on the floor with my students several times a week to share what we are reading together and on Wednesdays I play educational games with them. I also start every class period out by having my students put a 5 on their behavior charts which is the highest because every day is a new one! I want my students to know through my behavior and leadership that our classroom is a safe and caring environment. I have positive sayings and pictures of my students past and present engaged in classroom activities all around our classroom. I will be honest that I do have some days where I do get impatient but then I regroup and be that positive model because my kids do deserve it. I have been teased about my rose color glasses, but I just smile.

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    1. I have had a few behavior contracts as well but usually only in very severe cases. I always try and say something positive about my students as well. I am a big fan of the positive phone call home. I try and contact each student's home once a year with a positive call.

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    2. I love your positive post! I have challenged myself this year to not complain one time about my class to my coworkers.....I have learned that has gotten me nowhere. I feel it is easy to get sucked into such conversation at lunch! Every day is new day!

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    3. I love your positive post, as well! It is so hard to stay positive every day, but you have to start that way every day! We have to teach our students to do the same as well. We must lead by example, even when we don't want to do so.

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  6. One statement that impacted me in this week's reading was to "view every child as a seed waiting to bloom" (loc 496) As a gardener you know that different plants require different kids of attention; they all have unique needs. If you aren't reaching a child you aren't providing a need. A college student asked me today what I thought about this statement: "There is no such thing as an unmotivated student". I belief they can be motivated if their needs are being met. Needs in and out of your classroom. Care and creating an environment of collaborative, and innovative practices may be those motivating factors. "If you are busy building relationships and connecting with people, the fires will go way down." (loc 633)

    I email students positive "Caught You In The Act" moments. I share positives messages with parents. I give positive feedback with specific connections I made with their assessments. I connect topics they enjoy to curriculum content. More than anything is the relationships formed when you attend extra curricular events.

    I am looking forward to reading this week's comments for these tips shared will help with the base we need n order for innovation to work.

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    1. I agree with your sentiment about the seed statement. I teach freshmen and many of them come to high school not having been taught the valuable habits of learning, as I like to call them. (Things like how to address and respond to a teacher, the routine of coming into a classroom quietly and waiting for the teacher to begin class, not packing up their things 5 minutes before the bell, knowing how to handle themselves during a classroom discussion, etc.) Throughout the year it's sometimes a struggle to get my students to develop these habits, and I wish I could see them as seniors - did those seeds I planted ever mature and develop?

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    2. The child as a seed waiting to bloom resonated with me as well. Our former principal used that metaphor as a school theme -- the kids were the seeds, and the teachers were the farmers tending to those seeds. We were charged with making sure that each child had their needs met. Like Sarah said, each class presents its own unique sets of challenges as to what those needs are. My students this year struggle with basic classroom structure -- raising their hands, listening while others are talking, taking notes in class, but they also struggle in other, more complicated areas as well, like advocating for themselves as students, staying organized, and taking initiative. While I know that some of those seeds will mature as the kids mature, why haven't some of those seeds already matured? I know that actual seeds can be rushed, but can I rush this "seed"? Some of these should already be fully blossomed so that we can be tending to the other ones!

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  7. I have found that no matter what age your students that you teach, each of them like you to take a personal interest in them. When my students come in for class, I usually ask a few of them how their weekend, day, etc is going? At the end of the class period I genuinely wish them a good day. I also attend sporting events, band/music events, etc. and make a specific comment to the student who was there about how good they did, I find something positive to say to them. I also do a Who Are You activity at the beginning of the year, so others in the classroom can get to know each other, but I also find out interests and hobbies and it gives me something to talk with them about throughout the year. Students really do notice when you take an interest in them.

    I also call home or send a postcard home telling the parent I "Caught Your Student In The Act of Being Amazing" , sharing positive messages with parents. This goes along with our PRIDE drawings that we have when we see students being amazing- for acts of kindness that are above the normal expectations, doing something extra outside of class time, volunteering their time for something, helping a fellow classmate above what would be expected- We can hand out a card when we catch a student going above and beyond doing something positive and they are put in a drawing for a variety of prizes.

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    1. I love all of the positive ways you show interest in your students. I also like that you are focusing on behaviors and interests, other than focusing on material items to connect.

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    2. Our school sends out of the Best of BG postcards. It's not necessarily for when we catch a student doing something above and beyond anything they are supposed to be doing. Instead, we just try to encourage and praise any and all students, and maybe highlight those students who had previously been struggling in one way or another and have shown signs of improvement. Of course, we also call attention to those kids that are doing well, but they tend to get those natural accolades already with awards anyway. By sending a postcard home in the mail, they and their parents get to see that we recognize their efforts to do better, even if their grades may not show it or if it seems like no one else notices. Someone does.

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  9. When I first started teaching, I taught high school. Often these students were more aloof. Then I stayed home for 13 years with my children. Since I've returned three years ago, I have been with 6th graders. While immature at times, I really enjoy this age of students. One of the ways I connect with the students is through stories. Teaching English is all about stories: telling them, reading them, writing them. Through telling students stories about myself, my family, my experiences, etc., I connect with the students. They get to hear of my failures and quirkiness. It makes me seem more human. Because my own kids are currently the age of my students, I can show them through my stories that I get them . . . just like I try to get my children. At the end of each school year, my stories are mentioned as one aspect many of the students really enjoy about class.

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    1. It's funny the memory that kids have! I have some kids again this year as 7th graders that I also had last year as 6th graders. They can remember stories that I told them last year -- some to help them remember certain concepts and some just for fun! I'm glad that some of them stuck to help them remember the concepts, but there are others that I think, "...and that's what you remmember? Really?!" Haha!

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  10. Phone calls home are a great way to build a personal connection and trust with students and families. Emails work well too but there is something different about a phone call. I used to add a note to my calendar on the last school day of every month. I challenged myself to call my families to share positive news every month. Another strategy that I saw my child's teacher use was to hold an after school book reading. Every 6th grade child was given 3 minutes to read a section from their favorite book. The teacher let them choose whatever book they wanted. Some kids read poetry, others read graphic novels. The kids loved it and they were able to connect with their teacher through a love of books.

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    1. The book reading is a great idea! I don't know that many of my students would be into that, but I love the thought! I could see adapting it to using it to present things that they are particularly proud of!

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    2. She had over half of the 6th grade show up. I was amazed at the turnout. The kids loved it!

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  11. I trying connecting with the high school students by finding out what they are involved in and possibly attend their event. It may be drama, any sports team, marching band, National Honor Society, ROTC, or as simple as Art Club or photographer for the yearbook. I follow up with questions regarding their goal after high school and if what they are doing now will continue after graduation. Sometimes there is a connection and sometimes not. What I do offer them is a chance to share their dream, goals, or passion. I listen. Many love to share with anyone who will listen. Electronics have gotten in the way of talking to others I fear. The connections seems to work just through showing interest in their skills and dreams.

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    1. Kids love when you attend their events outside of school! I love going to choir concerts, athletic events, and all of it! Great way to show your support and school spirit!

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    2. I also enjoy attending their events as well! Not only does it help me to connect with the students, but it also helps me to connect with my colleagues as well! I learn much more about my co-workers who also attend their events because they may attend with their child(ren). It is also a great opportunity to catch up with the parents and other kids attending the event as well.

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  12. Right now, being a substitute teacher, I am in many classrooms but I really try to get to know as many students as possible. They love it when you call them by name. I really try to get to know them and let them know about me and my family. Often through doing this we find connections. Whether it be someone we know, a favorite subject, favorite sport, etc. Just this year I have had one particular "that student". He has tried to "test" his boundaries with me several times, my first thought was to stand firm and show him who's boss, but I decided to tried another approach. I am still being firm but thoughtful, caring, and kind too. I've noticed my tone and choice of words speak volumes. It is so important to show compassion and love to all students, even the tough ones. They need it the most!
    I've also written short notes to the students' parents if they had a good day. The students love this, especially from a sub.

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    1. Being a sub is one of the toughest jobs in the world, so I commend you wholeheartedly for doing the job that you are doing. How great of you to send notes home to parents letting them know when the student has had a good day. That is above and beyond! You rock!

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  13. As a preschool teacher I greet the kiddos at the door each morning! I give them a huge hug and comment on something/anything about them that makes them feel special or important. Something like, I love those shoes! Did you get a haircut? Or even yesterday...I saw a kitten and it reminded me of the one you have! I believe that when the kiddos feel special and feel connected to you and the class it will make them want to be there and learn. We also do many building activities throughout the year to help us get to know one another. All about me bucket...I do a fun activity called, "Gone with Gumby" The kiddos take Gumby for a week and when they come back they share what they have done and show pictures. This makes them feel so special! I also talk about my home and my life so they know that I am a real person too...I make connections between my family and theirs.
    One thing I did when I taught kinder and first grade...was eat lunch with the kiddos in the lunch room. I never ate in the teachers lounge. Here is where I learned so many wonderful stories, and sad stories about my kiddos little lives. Stories that I would have never gotten a chance to hear in the classroom. For example...one day we were talking about our grandparents and a little boy said, My dad lives with my grandparents...my mom got mad and threw a cake and it hit the wall...now my dad doesn't live with us anymore. As I sat there...it all made sense! His story explained his behavior that we had been experiencing for the past week! I would have NEVER heard this story in the classroom...
    I often talk with the parents and focus on the positive things their child is doing in the room...this makes the kiddos feel important. It also made me think about "making the phone call" in the book. I usually compliment the kiddos to their parents face to face...but how great would a phone call be!!!

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    1. Those are wonderful things that you do with your preschoolers. As coordinator of a preschool program, I make sure that I am outside greeting all of the students as they get off the bus or when their parents drop them off. I am also present when they leave to go home. As a school we host "Family Fun Night 4 x a year, each night is a different theme, ex: Reading, Valentine Dance, etc. During those night I may do things like a craft activity with a child, dance with a child , read a book etc.
      When I taught a primary special education class, one of the things I did was to visit each one of my students at their home.

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  14. Every year, even if I already know them, I give my students a “Who are you” questionnaire. They have to answer questions about their age, who they live with, what they would like to be in the future, why they chose my class…. The last question is open for them to tell me anything else that they want me to know. Most of the time they leave that question blank, and that is alright. As the days go by, I try to learn their names as soon as I can, and I try to make compliments about their new hair color, a necklace, or ask them about the music band on their T-shirt. Another thing that helps is that I am the only French teacher. I can have the same kids up to 4 years, and that lets me get to know them more.
    Even though some high school kids don’t make it easy for a teacher to love them, I have seen that showing them that I care puts a smile on their face. I also like to ask them questions about their likes and dislikes about music, food…. Those are good conversation starters. Over the years I have noticed how beneficial these connections can be.

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    1. These are good suggestions. They go along with things I have tried in my classes. Like you, I do a "get to know me" assignment every semester-even if I think I already know them.

      One item I use is a "coat of arms" where I give them a copy of a shield that is divided into four parts. In each of the four parts they are to either draw or write: 3 things they are good at, 3 words that others would use to describe them, 1 biggest accomplishment to date, and 3 things they want to improve. Then they share with another student in the room and introduce their "new friend" to the rest of the class. Interesting to find out talents they already have.

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    2. Like you mentioned, high school kids can be tough to crack. I find that even if they don't outright tell you that they enjoy you and feel a connection with you, they do so my smiling. Or they wait until the end of the year and then fill you full of praise.

      One idea I wanted to share was that I used to do a "brown bag project" at the start of the year. I provided brown paper lunch bags. Students had to decorate the front, back and sides with different things, such as front: all about them as a student (fave classes/school sports, clubs, etc) back: all about them as a person (siblings, family life, have they lived somewhere else?, etc) sides: their favorite things (can be anything! food, clothes, store, car, etc.) Then on the inside they have to place 3 items: one item each to represent their past, present, and future. This is a great way to learn about kids and for the other kids to learn about each other! Our high school has 3 middle schools feeding into it, so many of them don't know each other at all.

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  15. I have one student in particular that craves attention. He tries to push every button to try to get me to send him to the office. I hate to tell him...but it's not going to happen! I know he wants attention and will do anything to get it. To give him the attention he craves, he sits by me to work and when he is finished we read a book together or he just talks to me. I ask him questions about what he is telling me and really listen to him.

    To connect with other students we have "Family Time" every Monday. We all sit in a circle on the carpet and students get to share one thing from their weekend. There is no pressure to speak and students can pass if they don't have anything to share. This gives me a chance to learn about them and ask questions. I also try to make time each week to read one-on-one with students.

    My students love positive reinforcement. Students are much better when I give out "clip ups" rather than "clip downs." I write short notes to parents on citizenship rubrics for good or bad behavior, as well. I'm sure parents appreciate an actual phone call, but in the digital society we live in I think any way you communicate positively is appreciated. I'm not big on calling parents for positive or negative behavior. If the behavior was bad enough to call parents, then it's a referral to the office. I prefer to email, message, notes, or communicate through Class Dojo. It seems like I often get voicemails when I call parents.

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    1. Kristy- At my school, we implement PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports). This year is our first year, and we have seen a lot of improvements in positive behaviors at school. One thing we are doing is Positive Office Referrals. Maybe you could try that with your student that is craving attention. If he does something well or has a good day, tell him that you will send him to the office to meet with the principal. In our school, they get to pick and prize and the principal makes a positive phone call home. The students and parents love it! I use Class Dojo, so I have some parents that will see how their child is performing on a daily basis, but it is important to communicate with all parents. If you start making some positive calls, maybe parents will be more willing to answer the phone, in case of a negative call.

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    2. Ohhh we use PBIS too! I also use Dojo! Parents love that part as well! PBIS is a great way to get the whole school involved. We have it quite similar above to what April was describing. We are the CUBS so we have CUB CARE Cards. They are pulled out as well at the end of the day and the students that are called get a prize in the office.

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    3. We use PBIS also. We are the Knights so our kids get Knight Notes. We have weekly prize winners, 9wk prizes and also semester prizes! Our teachers write hundreds of Knight Notes and (almost) every student is recognized for some reason during the year.

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    4. I also use Class Dojo, but I also like the idea of some additional type of positive behavior system. With a new administrator this year, I think it would be a great way to introduce the kids to her in a positive way while also letting her know that she is approachable.

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  16. "Students who are loved at home, come to school to learn, and students who aren't, come to school to be loved." -Nicholas A. Ferroni
    "Be somebody who make everybody feel like a somebody." -Kid President

    I post these two quotes, because they are very relatable to our discussion this week. In order for students to learn, they need to know that their teacher cares about and respects them. How can a child learn if they feel like their teacher doesn't care? I spend a lot of time at the beginning of each school year working on a classroom community, which includes sharing my life with students. They want to know more about their teacher outside of school, and this is a great time to build a connection and rapport with students. I tell my students that even though I am their teacher and I have the ultimate say, it is OUR classroom and that we show respect to everyone.

    Throughout the school year, I find it more difficult to spend time communicating and developing these relationships with students. There is the added pressure to cover content, less time due to testing and events, as well as time needed to prepare lessons. Excuses, excuses, excuses. This year I began to implement a daily whiteboard in my classroom. If you are on social media, check out miss5thswhiteboard. Here is a link to her blog post: http://miss-5th.blogspot.com/2016/02/establishing-classroom-community-with.html. Each day I post a new question for the students to come up an answer on the whiteboard. I take the time to read through their answers (to myself) and it has given me some insight into their personalities. I am thinking that when we come back from Fall Break, I will begin answering the question also! I think the students will feel a deeper connection if I participate.

    Another way that I develop relationships with students, is to take time to talk to them about what is going on in their lives, and to even watch some of these events. I would like to be able to attend all of their events, but since I live an hour away from school, I can't always attend. I make a point to go and watch the students play sports at school. They get so excited to see me and talk to me about it the next day! This is a small gesture, but I know they appreciate my appearance to watch them perform. I was even asked about how I develop relationships with students in an interview last year, so it is important to a lot of people!

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    1. I love miss5thswhiteboard ideas! I started seeing them pop up in my pinterest feed and even as a high school teacher, I find myself using some of her questions in my classroom. It is definitely a great way to connect with kids!

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    2. Okay. I just looked this up because this is the second time I've heard about this blog, and I love it!!!! Thank you both for recommending it!

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  17. I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year building relationships and learning about the students. This helps me get to know them, but also helps them to become comfortable with each other. I feel this is really important especially because I need my students to be able to make mistakes and read in front of group. I have found that this does not work with every student but I usually find a soft spot in most of my students.
    I always try new methods as well. Although I keep going back to the good old trusty 2X2 for those super tough students. The benefit to the student is they feel like they can talk to an adult and of course get the help they need. In my school, sometimes that involves getting other parties on board to assist, but in the end we all come together and do the best for every student.
    I feel this effective because I have freshmen and usually maintain a relationship with students through their high school career.

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  18. I love connecting with our students. It is part of why I love my job! I love to chat with them and hear what is important to them! I have had students over the years who have come back and told me they were going to go over seas to be a teacher and another that is going to be a music teacher-warms my soul! I love talking with parents! I just told a parent today something that he did well today. Now I reallllly had to search for that item, buuutt I did it. Grandma lit up when I told her that he did well during reading and completed his work. In the past I have tried to call parents to check in, see if they have any questions etc. I have also tried to call and share something good. It is very time consuming and I have gotten away from it. I have sent notes home as well, then that way the time isn't so much; but then you lose part of the personal touch.
    Great chapters!

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    1. I agree that these chapters were really great! I was very uplifted after reading these particular chapters!

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  19. Going 1 to 1 this year has helped with communication between the students and myself. I enjoy being able to communicate with the students and answering question in a timely manner.In the past, I used to send home post cards for good behavior, good deeds, etc. It required some time but it wasn't to time consuming. I am wading in the waters of technology rather than diving in head first. My hope and belief is that I will incorporate more of it as the year continues, but I feel very strongly about the power of personal communication via phone or in person. Finding a nice balance of both is my ultimate goal. Teaching physical education allows me the opportunity to communicate with the students daily. I provide instant feedback daily on their efforts and work. I feel fortunate to be able to do this because it allows me to have a better understanding of each child.

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  20. It’s not very often that you get to connect with students on a deeper level when you teach high school. You are with them for about 50 minutes per day, and during that time, it’s hard to get to know them on a personal level because you have so much content to get through. I am blessed to work in a program at the high school level where I do get to connect with my 100 kids very deeply. Our program prides itself on feeling more like a family at times. We get to know the kids and their backgrounds/family life. As a team, our administrators give us a lot of freedom for how we handle kids and discipline issues that arise because they know that we know the kids better than anyone. So when one kid is having a bad day and acting out more than usual, we know what will work with that student. We know that most of our students have enormous amounts of baggage they deal with every day when they leave school. And that should be taken into account when dealing with discipline issues. (I loved how in chapter 4 it was mentioned how we must rethink discipline in that it needs to address the cause not just the symptoms!) I refuse to give up on a child when I know their background and what they have to face each day when they leave the safety of my classroom. It’s very hard some days to not just throw my hands up in the air and feel like it’s a lost cause, but when a connection is made and the behavior changes, it’s so worth all the stress, time and effort!

    I feel like our kids do succeed because they can see that their 6 teachers in this program do care for them and take the time to show them they do care. They come to us as freshmen and we literally know nothing about them. They truly are getting a fresh start, and we make that very clear from the beginning. We build deeper relationships with our kids by calling them in to group meetings if we see that they are struggling with something. We check in with them often if we know an issue has arisen. I personally will have academic goal conferences with my students, so I can see what areas they are struggling in and what they need more guidance in. Notice that all of this is done by talking to the child on a regular basis, something that chapter 4 strongly suggested! I know it works because we have past students that come back to us and tell us how much they miss us and our program. It’s easy at the high school level to just hand the kid a detention, but that never curbs the behavior.

    On a side note, I will say that looking back, I became a different teacher when I became a mother. I don’t know if I became “better”, but I do know that I tackle hard-to-reach kids a lot differently now. My motherly instinct kicks in and I try to teach them not just my content, but also the life skills that many of them are so desperately in need of and didn’t get taught at home.

    Calling home to praise students is something that I plan on suggesting to my fellow teammates. What an easy way to connect and show how much we value their good behavior and effort!

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    1. I love how you talk so passionately about your program. Knowing what your program is all about and the intended purposes behind it, I am so thankful that you are a part of it! I am the Alternative Ed. Department Chair, and it sounds like you are the *perfect* fit!

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    2. Thank you for your kind comment Kim! I really do love it!

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    3. I'm so glad to hear that, Sarah! It's hard to find the right people!

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  21. The reading for this week was very timely as our school just had parent-teacher conferences. Connection to students and their families is key to cultivating success for students. I try to find out what students' interests are and connect with them through discussions in and out of the classroom. If a student comes in wearing a football jersey then we'll talk about the upcoming game and what he/she thinks the outcome will be, etc.
    I've also started keeping a digital contact journal. I try to call and/or email parents with praises for their child. I believe this is as important as the need to contacting parents when there is an academic and/or discipline issue.
    As the media technology teacher, I love, love, love the idea of involving Twitter in my classroom. Our district's policy is currently opposed to social media during the school day but I'm hopeful that advancements in 21st Century learning and teaching ideas will change policies allowing for networking to take place through technologies like social media.

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    1. Hi! If your school policy won't allow you to use Twitter during the school day, what about using a platform like Edmodo? I have a fellow teacher that uses it in his classroom and the kids love it because of how it's set up similar to Facebook. Just thought I'd share!

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  22. I enjoyed reading these chapters for many reasons, but I feel like chapter 4 was the chapter I could relate to most. I know we have all had those students who just "push our buttons", but last year I really struggled with this. I understand the frustrations and the feeling of wanting to give up and many days I did feel defeated. I look back now and listening to this student would have been a great way to possibly help him and I connect. It's not that I didn't want this to happen I just often felt all of my energy was spent trying to control him on a daily basis. My class this year is very different. Even though it is different and I have less discipline problems I am still going to make the time to listen to each of my students and build a relationship with them. I love the ideas of writing letters home and making personal phone calls. I have always WANTED to do this, maybe it's time I ACTUALLY do it.

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    1. I also like the idea of sending home letters or making personal phone calls. I send e-mails out to parents before we have test in my Algebra classes to keep them posted on what we are working on and what the students should be studying. Many parents have said that they really appreciate it! I think you would have a very positive response to letters and/or phone calls.

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    2. I also like to share videos of what I share with my Social Skills kiddos with their parents. If we're talking about growth mindset or empathy, I try to share those videos and the accompanying discussion questions with their parents as well so that they can have discussions as home as well to follow up. I know that not all parents do, but at least the parents are "in the know" about what skills I'm trying to instill at school so that they can at least attempt to reinforce them at home.

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  23. Connecting with students is one of my favorite aspects of our job. At the primary level, they all have something they want you to know about them. I started the year off by sending them a welcoming postcard and asking them a question that they could answer at the ice cream social or first day of school. Something as simple as making eye contact, shaking their hand, and welcoming them to school each day really creates an inviting environment. I also tried to attend sporting events or recitals that the kids were in outside of school. The parents were always very appreciative of my time outside of school. Some of those families have kept in touch 10+ years later. Investing in people, its what we do.

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    1. I totally agree. I love it when my kids' teachers come to their sporting events. The kids love it, and they play a little extra hard if the teacher is watching. :)
      By doing all these things you mentioned it's really creating a caring, trusting atmosphere that so many need. Your last sentence tells it ALL and it reaps great rewards.

      "Life is about making an impact, not about making an income."- Kruse

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  24. I think one way that always allows me to connect with students is just talking with them. Middle schoolers love to talk and they really love to talk about themselves. Just taking the time to listen to whatever it is they have to say, asking questions, carrying on conversations here and there, that always seems to make the relationship a little deeper each time. When you have those deeper relationships I think that's when you see students give you their best work. You can tell when they're just phoning it in, and might say something. And you can also tell when they've given it their all and you can praise that. More often you're getting the best work because there's that connection there.

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    1. I laughed when I read Rachel's statement that middle school students love to talk, mostly about themselves. This is so true! I have learned a lot from my students by just listening to them, and this is a good strategy too, since I have found that it is nearly impossible to get a word in anyway! I have been asked to define the meaning of life, what does love look like, do I like Peyton or Luck, and on a daily basis-what are we having for lunch?

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  25. Building relationships with students is vital. "Before they care what you know, they need to know that you care." My school has been 1:1 for 4 years now, and that has opened up new avenues of communication. Some students who are harder to get to know during class time reach out digitally to me. That will then often lead to increased interpersonal connection.

    One thing I try to consciously do, especially at he beginning of the year, is attend extracurriculars. Then the next day I can compliment a student on his performance in the school play, or great effort at the football game, or even something as trivial as clothing. That goes a long way toward opening up further conversation.

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  26. I try to talk to each student weekly if I do not talk to them each class period. I build relationships that way or I participate in an activity that we are doing in my Physical Education classes. Students love to go and tell their friends how they did better then the teacher.

    I also attend their extra curricular events and congratulate them on a job well done. The students love to see teachers in attendance at an athletic event, band, choir, or go visit them at their place of work.

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    1. That's great that you take the time to go to the extra curricular events. That means so much to students and really shows them how much you care.

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  27. A great way I have found to bond with students is to discuss books. I learn a lot about a kid by finding out what they like to read in their free time. I have limited contact with most of the students at my school simply because I am in the library all day.

    I have developed a very active Book Club and Battle of the Books Team over the years and find these students often just want a place they feel they belong. We call ourselves the nerd herd because we love books and spend a lot of time reading. These kids often felt like they didn’t fit in because they weren’t on a sports team or involved in a lot of extracurricular activities. The library is a place for them to come and relax. I try to greet every student who walks through the door and get to know them by assisting them in finding a book or by making a recommendation based on the information they share with me. I have found that a mutual love of reading has helped me connect with a lot of students.

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    1. That's a great idea! We also have a "Culture of Kindness" Club at our school for a similar purpose. It often caters to those kids that don't tend to fit into any other club at school but are great kids. They are kind and exemplify the qualities that we want demonstrated in our building. They do a number of small service projects throughout our building throughout the year, like motivating students before the ISTEPs in various ways and arranging clothing drives, etc.

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  28. I try to connect with my students by taking in interest in what activities, clubs, sports they are involved in. I enjoy discussing things that they are interested in and this helps to get to know them on a more personal basis. I also like to incorporate many partner activities where the students can interact with each other and with me. I think these types of activities help to build a classroom where students know one another better and feel comfortable to ask for help. The more connections you can make, the more successful you students can become.

    I also like to get involved outside of the classroom with clubs and sports. I have coached softball and sponsored clubs. When you interact with students outside of the classroom setting, it allows you to create a more personal relationship with the students. It also lets the students know that you take in interest in their activities and want to contribute to the community. Many times, this will help the students feel more comfortable in you classroom and more willing to participate or ask for help.

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  29. Teaching Health to middle school students provides a great opportunity to talk about real life issues. I work very hard to make things as relevant as possible. I share a lot of personal stories about myself or family to help them gain human perspective on health issues. I find that students want to share their stories with me as well. Many times after a student has told me about a personal or family health issue I'll tell them to please keep me posted - and they do. I want my students to know I not only care about them as students but I truly care about their health and well-being.

    Students also do journal writing where they often share about themselves and their struggles. This provides a safe outlet for them and an opportunity for me to listen and respond. Journaling also provides information to me about the student that I can start a more personal conversation with them. Of course, sometimes just asking a student about their day and how they're doing goes a long way as well.

    The last few years my health classes have been separated by gender. This year my 8th grade classes are coed. In the spring when we talk about the choices and consequences of relationships, teen pregnancy and std's I want to provide an opportunity for students (especially) the girls to ask questions. I plan to have "heart to heart" Q & A time during their lunch period. They can eat lunch with me in my room and I'll answer their questions and give opportunity for discussion of sensitive topics.

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  30. I have the most luck connecting with students by listening to them talk, and joking around with them. In the past, I have sometimes been so focused on getting the scores that I wanted from my students that I forgot to enjoy them. I think students can tell when you like them, and this can make the going so much easier. This year, while we are still trying to get the most out of each lesson, I am lightening up a little, and this is really paying off, because when I do want the students to get serious, they seem much more willing to do so.

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    1. I completely agree that letting students see a softer/more jovial side of you at times lets them see a more "human" side of you as a teacher and, therefore, allows them to feel more willing to open up to you during class discussions. It certainly does pay off for you and for your class when it comes to class discussions. They are more vibrant and lively, which makes them more entertaining, for sure.

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    2. Yes!! I agree. The more you can get on their level, the more they will open up!

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  31. I try to make personal contact with every student in each of my classes on a daily basis. I do this during homework checks, individual work periods, and during paired activities. I try to move around and give praise or push students harder to reach the daily class goals. I also try to greet each class and ask how everything is going in their day so far.

    At the beginning of the year, I have students fill out a paper all about themselves. I learn what activities they are involved with in and outside of school. I try to learn something about each student so I can connect with them during class. Students love when you ask them about what is important to them and usually this helps with their attitudes in the classroom.

    Our school also implements PBIS. Our faculty does a great job recognizing positive behavior in our students. Students are proud to receive their positive notes.

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    1. Positive reinforcement is so important. I like to choose 2-3 students every week, and send a positive note home to their parents. I try to start with the B/C students. I find something specific to let them know that I know their kid. (A funny joke they made, a particular assignment they did well on, or just a great test score. A students get a lot of praise, and I do include them, but it's nice to reach out to those who may not get as much praise. Some emails are harder to write! Jimmy is late every day (when he shows up) and has failed the last 3 tests....he's a bit mouthy, too. But finding the positive in that kid turns things around!

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    2. I agree that it is sometimes hard to find something nice to say about some kids, but I just keep thinking until I find something. Each student in my class is working hard on something, and I have to recognize that. Even if that one thing is just keeping the same pencil throughout the entire day -- it may sound trivial to you or me, but it's a big deal for him if can accomplish that! He and his parents would recognize that and for me to take the time to recognize that would be greatly appreciated by them because they would also notice that I truly recognize the efforts that he is making.

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  32. I see so many great things posted!! I use a journal through Google drive that I collect at random and read through their responses. Because a lot of my content is personal most students feel comfortable sharing in a journal rather then in class. I stand in the hall and greet each student, I think this let's students know I'm prepared and eager to start the day with them. I try to give good feedback on collected assignments and make a point to let them know Ive read their work. I do have an advantage as my content lends itself to connecting to the students on a more personal level. Most of our students are involved in sports, music, drama, etc so I do try to attend events throughout the year. think to improve connection I could call home (or email) with positive news. I also have realized while I ask them to share I do not give a lot of my interests with students. I would like to be more intentional about that.

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  33. I see so many great things posted!! I use a journal through Google drive that I collect at random and read through their responses. Because a lot of my content is personal most students feel comfortable sharing in a journal rather then in class. I stand in the hall and greet each student, I think this let's students know I'm prepared and eager to start the day with them. I try to give good feedback on collected assignments and make a point to let them know Ive read their work. I do have an advantage as my content lends itself to connecting to the students on a more personal level. Most of our students are involved in sports, music, drama, etc so I do try to attend events throughout the year. think to improve connection I could call home (or email) with positive news. I also have realized while I ask them to share I do not give a lot of my interests with students. I would like to be more intentional about that.

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    1. Hi Amanda! Journals allow kids to open up much more than during class discussion. They are a great way to connect. I just have a hard time finding the time to read/grade them! Do you just browse through them and give completion points? What does your grading system for journals look like? Do you ever reply or respond to their entries?

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    2. Hello! I use a Google Doc for journals and keep a list of my prompts. I collect them 2x a semester for 100pts. However many journals I have I divide that by 100 and that's the point per journal. I read them (takes a while) I give feedback. I don't really read every single one-but the ones that are more personal I do. I use the Google doc because I can go back and look at corrections and it allows me to see they accessed the document daily. :) If they were absent they are excused from that prompt.

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  35. I think that kids are natural and willing story tellers, so I like to connect with them by listening to their stories. As a parent, I try to do this with my son each day as well. I know that we don't have time to listen to all of the kids' stories every day. I try to pick out as many as I can each day - in the hall, waiting in line at the bathroom, waiting for the morning bell, etc. I think that listening to the kids helps their self-esteem, makes them more willing to try in school, and makes them feel like I really care about what he/she has to say (which I do!). I can see how excited they get when they are telling me about something that happened at home or an extracurricular activity. It also provides me insights regarding things that are relevant in their world, which I can make connections to through my lessons.

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    1. They love talking about themselves!! I think it is good that we share part of our stories, also. They need to see that we are humans, have lives, make mistakes, and don't always have our stuff together. Little talking moments like you mentioned are great opportunities for that.

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  36. Being a music teacher, I feel like I connect more with my students in after school rehearsals simply because they are a smaller group of kids (10 or less) compared to a class of 24-28. I think my students feel more relaxed too because it's more quaint and therefore share more with me. With big classes, I like to do some kind of ice breaker at the beginning of the year to get the communication lines open. I also like to make sure that during any discussion of music or class composition, all ideas are heard. I think it's important that students feel safe to share their ideas without worry of what others might think. I also think that just listening to a student speaks volumes with them. Knowing that they can share stories or thoughts with you makes them feel special and want to share more. By taking a few moments to just listen, I can usually get more out of a student in terms of work ethic.

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  37. I believe that connecting with students is a vital part of being an effective teacher. I believe that if students see that you are concerned about them as actual people and not just another face in a class of people, they are more willing to work hard in your class. I have made a point to be involved in activities that allow me to work with students outside the normal classroom setting. I have coached MS girls volleyball, I am a class sponsor, and I have opened my classroom during lunch time to be a "safe space" for those that want to come in and talk. These different roles have allowed to me get to know students on a personal level. Coaching gives me the chance spend lots of time with the team and talk about things that are not always school related. Girls that have played on my teams, become almost family to me. They trust that they can tell me more personal things, and they are quick to defend me to their friends. In being a class sponsor, I get to help students become problem solvers outside the classroom. Finally, giving kids a "safe place" during lunch has been something that has benefited both the students and myself. In giving them a place to go when they don't feel comfortable in the lunch room, the students know that I care about their personal well being. Finding ways to connect with these kids on a personal level goes a long way in making a positive impact on their lives.

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    1. Making connections with kids outside the classroom definitely allows for connections beyond the norm. I too have my classroom open during lunch time and I think that encourages me to hear you bring that up!

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  38. I try to start connecting with my students the first day of school. We do a snowball fight and they really get into it. Each snowball has things the students have written about themselves. Then we pick up the snowballs and try to guess which student it belonged to. During our science and social studies classes we do tic tac toe activities and projects. During each activity or project I have the opportunity to talk with each student individually. During those conversations, I learn alot about what each students home life is like as well as their resources. Also, through coaching 3 sports I have the opportunity to get to know my students in a different setting, but also get to know their parents or guardians better.

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    1. The snowball fight activity has always intrigued me, but it's always intimidated me at the same time! Hahaha! With the group that I deal with each year, I worry that they will just pelt each other and that it will set the tone for the rest of the year! I know that it would be worst case scenario, but that's why I've never tried it!

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  39. Students are the reason that we have jobs, and connecting with them is so important. Just about every day in my class, the students work together (maybe 10 minutes, maybe most of the period). It gives me a chance to walk around and chat with individuals and small groups. I try to make sure that they stay on task, but also have time to chat with others and with me. It's a great way to find out about their activities, etc.
    Before class, I'm always walking around, picking up papers, or straightening up desks. As the kids stroll in, it's another great opportunity to ask what they did over the weekend, plans for the upcoming weekend, how classes are going, etc. I'm very fortunate to work in a Christian school, so when the students have prayer requests, I follow up with them. I like to ask if Grandma is out of the hospital, how the band recital went, etc.
    I like to be present at their activities - show up to sports, concerts, practices....anything, even a few minutes, means a lot to them.
    Building report with the kids is so important. I do believe that if they like you (I know, we're not here to be their friends, but if they respect and connect with you), they will want to do better. Hopefully these connections motivate them, or at least not feel awkward coming for help.

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  40. I try to connect with my students in a variety of ways. Since my class is rather inclusive -- by that I mean that I have my 15 7th-graders for a pretty good duration of the day and throughout much of the year, I have a unique opportunity to get to know them on a different level than many other teachers.

    I start the year by having them create a fake Facebook page (on paper) that tells me about them -- similar to how I would learn about them if I were "creeping" on them on a real Facebook account. They get to make their own profile picture, which just like on Facebook, can be as realistic, artistic, or artificial as they want it to be. I also ask them about their closest friends, parents, extra curricular activities, whether or not they have a phone/printer, etc., I also have them set goals for themselves to accomplish during the first quarter.

    I also build a rapport, like many other people have said, by attending their extra curricular events -- band/choir concerts, sporting events, chaperoning dances, etc. Even if I can't attend, I try to ask about them. For those kids that aren't in those things, I try to pass along opportunities for them to get involved in things that I think might interest them, like coding clubs or engineering camps that Purdue offers.

    I also use Class Dojo to get their parents involved. By doing so, it invites their parents into their school world in a way that they may not have previously been invited -- or at least they felt like they haven't been invited. I encourage the kids and the parents to open the lines of communication about what is going on at school, so that rapport is built between not only the kids and I but also between the parents and I. Therefore, we all have a unique rapport that helps everyone feel better about school in general. It sounds like I've got an ideal system. I know that I don't, but I am always working on improving it, and I love that the kids and the parents embrace it.

    That's just three ways that I have tried to connect to my students. There are more, but those are the main ones that I think have had the biggest impact.

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    1. I've heard many people use Class Dojo - I'm definitely going to look into it! It sounds like something my students and parents would enjoy.

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    2. I love it! My parents have loved it, too! Some of it's applications could be difficult to apply to a high school classroom because it may seem childish to that level of student, but it's a great communication tool! It's so easy to customize, which makes it quick and easy!

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  41. As a teacher in a small school with sometimes very small classes, and the same kids for 3 or 4 years in a row, it’s relatively easy for me to connect with my students. I know them, their favorite things to do, their families, their siblings, their dogs and cats…
    What do I do to make this happen? I try to break the ice by noticing what they are wearing or a book they are carrying. I chat before class starts. I chat at the end of class while I am helping students on assignments. I notice when someone is not feeling good and ask what is wrong. I tell stories about myself and my cats. (One of my students helped me with my answer. I asked her what I do to connect with students and that’s what she told me!) Foreign language lends itself to telling stories and talking about life. I show myself to be human and students are human with me.
    I take interest in their extracurriculars and show it by asking questions, and of course attending events when I can. I take notice of volunteer work and after school jobs, too.
    I also make it known that I will move mountains to help them not only with my subject but with any, like math and science.
    That, and hundreds of smiles and kind words.

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    1. I agree that talking about ourselves at times shows that we are human and that we are available to connect!

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  42. I remember a post-observation conference with an administrator a few years ago. The administrator mentioned that my teaching style was to teach through the relationships I built with students. I've always believed that relationships are the single most important factor in education. The same holds true now in my role as a tech coach. As an athletic coach and classroom teacher, the relationships I had with students were central to everything we did at school. Now that I do not have a classroom of my own, I'll admit that it is hard to build trusting relationships with students. Many of them aren't sure who I am or what my role is. I have to take advantage of every chance I get to connect with them. At one building, there is a student who works in the office. She and I talk about books and we give recommendations to each other. I have a few students that have started to reach out via email to ask me for tech support. I try to attend sporting events and musicals at each campus when I can. If a teacher asks me to join them on a field trip, I try to make it happen. I try to make myself vulnerable in the classroom when I co-teach to show the kids I'm there to get to know them, too. I'm always thankful for the opportunity to be in the classroom. Spending time with students is what helps us stay true to our mission.

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  43. I'm sure we all can agree that the topic of these chapters is simultaneously the best part of teaching and the hardest to achieve. Building relationships with students is both extremely important and at times, incredibly challenging, especially for those students who "push all the wrong buttons". I've enjoyed reading the comments of the other educators on this thread who have included ways and ideas to help improve connections with students. Something that has been recently implemented at my school is a program called "Pizza with the Principal". For the program, teachers are asked each month to nominate a student to enjoy pizza with the principal with the other nominees during their lunch periods. The teachers who nominate the students are asked to write a paragraph describing the reasons for their nomination. Through participation of this program within the last two months, I have been able to celebrate the times when I have "caught" a student doing something exceptional. After nominating one student who pushed all my wrong buttons in previous years, participation in class improved and the acknowledgements that I wrote about were not only well received, but the student came to my class the next day and gave me a hug to thank me for the kind words about her improvements. This program, implemented by a strong and positive principal, has truly impacted the connection I have with students. It has worked to build deeper relationships with the students who are celebrated. While there are many programs I can implement in my own room based on the advice listed in the comments and the ideas described, my favorite part of teaching and the reason I went into this profession, is to build connections with my students. Knowing about the activities they're involved in, their family environments, and what their hobbies are really helps to accomplish this. Being in English content area also helps promote these connections. When students feel comfortable enough in their writing to open up, those relationships have been made stronger. Eventually through their trust in me in their writing and in discussion of literature, the benefits are endless for how much they are able to learn from themselves and their growth in their writing.

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  44. I love people...I love kids...I love to laugh and connect with students in the classroom. The exciting part about my classrooms is that I get to teach life to these kids. We have to get personal at times...whether that be about our childhoods in Child Development, or our eating styles in Nutrition and Wellness. It can be pretty easy to connect when it is a FACS classroom. The fun part is many kids want to talk...they want to share.
    One thing that I have noticed is that having preconceived ideas about students can sometimes change what a connection could have been. Home lives these days can be so devastating to hear about and it is important to remember this when trying to make connections. We as teachers may be the only smile or kind voice that student hears that day. I try to do my best to make connections whether it be asking about their day, telling them about my weekend and getting many questions, the elbow tap I give Micah each day as he passes my room or the charger that is always ready for Cherish during her lunch period so she can "charge up." So many opportunities pass our way! One fun thing I get to do is sit at a table and eat with students after we have prepared things in the kitchen. We have a family talk as we call it :)
    We can't always connect with everyone but being willing is the key. I try to look for opportunities...It is also wise to remember that my bad day could cause someone else's good day to come to a halt. Students will always remember you...but how??

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  45. I feel that building relationships is the most important aspect of teaching. The more you get to know each student, the more they will trust, listen, and respect you as a teacher. I like to greet students as they walk in from the bus each morning. During the first few weeks of school, we had the children bring in "All About Me" bags where they got to share something things about them and their families. We have a special helper each day. The special helper gets to be the line leader, calendar helper, and he/she gets to share something about themselves during the writing of the day. We also are able to teach in small groups several times during the day. This allows me to hear from each student and have that one on one time with them that they all crave. I also make sure to send home a positive note to each student every week. We have high school helpers that come over to help during different hours each day for their Early Childhood class. They also form relationships with the students and help send those positive notes home.

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  46. I enjoyed chapters 4-6! Building relationships with students is one of my favorite parts of teaching middle school. I love watching the students at the beginning of the year and challenging myself to find individuals that seem like they could use a friend. Throughout the year it is so fun to see awkward, shy, and insecure individuals say hi to you and share stories of their day.
    In the classroom, since I teach Health, sometimes we start the class with a "24" activity. This is a quick self-evaluation for the students on their overall health in the last 24 hours. It gives us a chance to check in on their social, emotional, and physical health. It also allows me to better understand and empathize my students.
    Also, on pg. 48, I can relate to the section titled "Catch Them Doing Something Great". So many students are interested in something, but it just doesn't seem to get as much attention as other students' activities. I love recognizing students for great art work or their hard work they have put into the school play. My favorite scenario of this is when one of my video gamer students wants to tell me about the game he is currently playing at home and I have absolutely no idea what he is talking about. The truth is, he doesn't care that I don't understand...he just loves that I took time to listen.

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  47. I feel that making everyone one of my students feel loved and important is the most important job about teaching. I tell my students all the time that they are my kiddos and that I love them. I'm always handing out hugs, smiling, giving them high fives and patting them on the back. As a teacher, you might be the only person in that child's life that cares. I treat adults in my building the same way. I smile ask how their day is going, their kids, and etc. I love teaching art and being a special teacher because I get to have a relationship with every student in our building and hopefully have a positive impact on their life and show them LOVE!

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  48. I connect with my students in a lot of different ways. One way is by consistently being at work and being there. I also try to make sure the great things promptly and put lots of feedback on their papers. Smiles praise And asking about their day are also important

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  49. I am constantly asking my students what they are doing after to school and about extra curricular activities. I make sure to take an interest in all aspects of their lives that they allow me information on. We talk about home life especially in health class, hobbies, sports, and general interests. I do this not only on whole class basis but I am sure to talk with each student to let them know that I care for them individually. As a wrestling coach, many times I tend to make a connection with the “troubled kids”. This is for some reason figuratively the description of many wrestlers. Even at the middle school level, many of the students show up to the first day of practice without any sort of gear, rough clothes, and many times unsure if they will have a ride home. It is easy to see that they will need more than just wrestling gear and a ride to help them with everyday life. I take special interest in these kids because I know that they have a respect for me as their coach and a teacher for many years to come. I make sure each year that all lockers are decorated and that each kid is celebrated in one way or another for their achievements both on and off of the mat. I reach out to parents and caregivers who do not show up to wrestling events and try to persuade them to become more involved because their child is doing well and excelling. I make sure that everyone has healthy snacks before and after meets so that no one is left hungry. One student/athlete in particular stands out to me that I have been working with for years. This kid simply joined the wrestling team because his older brother had decided to wrestle. As I got to know these boys I became more aware that they were foster children that had been transferred from place to place enduring many hardships along the way. They felt it was them against the world and did not seem to understand that someone could actually have their best interest at heart. The oldest brother quit the team after only one year and sort of faded off of my radar while the younger brother stayed put and started soaking up every bit of knowledge that I could give him as far as wrestling and many pertained to life as well. He became a great wrestler and an even better person through the years. I have told him time and time again how much I care for him and give him all of the praise and advice that I can. It is all worth it if even 1 kid gets a better chance at life. We are currently talking about what his plans are for college and how we can make that a reality for him!

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  50. Wow! These chapters really spoke to me as both a teacher and the former me; high school student Jennifer Jones. I was that kid that needed my teachers, because things were a little crazy at home. I began my career as a classroom teacher reaching out to the students that really needed me, all the while unaware of why I was doing it. 20 years later, I now realize that I connect with my students that need me better than most of my peers. It does not require thought or planning, it just happens, because it is part of who I am! I love my subject matter, and I love the people that I get to share it with every day in my classroom. I feel it, and I make sure my kids feel it. Content is very important, but it is more important that my students know that we have that connection. We talk during passing period, around bell time, and before & after school about all kinds of things, most of which is not a part of my curriculum. What is happening in their world? Family matters, athletics, other classes, music...the list goes on. When I show them that I take a personal interest in them, they take more of an interest in my class. They spread the word that Mrs. Lee cares. Having the respect of your students goes a long way. It also carry's over when you need to reach out to the parents in a phone call or email. Making the connection with parents/guardians fosters a triangle for success (that is my name for it!). Now we are a team that really cares about the success of the student. I call in good times first, then if I need to call in bad times, I have support. As a young teacher I did not have the confidence to make those calls, and I struggled with the connections that I needed with my students. I felt like there was a physical distance between me & my kids. That distance is closed now that I include all stakeholders in the success of all of my students. That lack of confidence that I had meant that I was the only one that had a voice in my classroom. I now understand and welcome the voices of my bosses, my students, parents & even other teachers. Not only do I understand my subject matter much better than I used to, but I really get my kids, and can lead them where I need them to go so much more effectively......and my kids like the journey as much as I do!

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  51. At the high school level, it's sometimes hard to connect with students. I consider myself lucky in that fact that I teach Family and Consumer Sciences, and a lot of the students really enjoy having those types of classes in their day. In my classes, it's sometimes easy to get to know the kids on a little different level purely due to the subject matter. For example, in my Child Development classes, when we talk about families, I learn quite a bit about the homes and families my students come from. In my Interpersonal Relationships classes, we talk about family/friend/ dating/etc relationships, which really lets me get to know my students on a more personal level. I find that if you show an interest in them, then they will most often times connect with you and your classes and it makes for a better trimester for everyone. I truly believe that our students want to make connections with us. They want us to take an interest in their lives and what happens outside of the school day. I know I did when I was in school, and those teachers that did that made a lasting impression on me. I just hope I can do the same for my students.

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  52. I have always taught at the high school level and find connecting with kids at that age level most rewarding. How do I connect with these kids?? First..I treat them with respect and talk to them like they are equals/adults. Yes...I know that, at times, they may be neither but they deserve to be treated as I want to be treated until they prove they do NOT deserve it. Second, I create an equal, balanced and SAFE place for all students and they respond by connecting with me. Students will come talk to me because they know that I am there for them and willing to listen.

    I see many of my fellow teachers and how they connect with their students. The one trait I see exhibited by the most connected teachers isn't their content area...it is the personal connection in the hallway. I see these teachers talking to kids in the hallways about the sports they play, the books they are reading and the cloths they are wearing. These teachers share their personal histories, families, hobbies and habits with the students while listening as the students share with them. Connected kids are more likely to learn the content because they care about the subject that is taught by teachers who care about them.

    Another way that I connect is through books. I get to know what individual students like to read and share the books I know that they will like. I read more than 100 books every year and the kids know that they only need ask and I will recommend titles that will interest them.

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  53. I am a firm believer that without positive relationships we are just spinning our wheels. If we cannot connect to our students, whether as an administrator or as a teacher, then we are going to have problems. Our senior class recently suffered a loss. A former student (a senior at a neighboring school) and still a community member took his own life. I called in additional counselors for a few days, but what surprised me the most is that kids wanted to talk to me. Because of those relationships. That firs day I went home with mascara all over my shirt from girls crying while holding on to me. I had conversations in my office that parents called me later to thank me for. If I had not built relationships first, the students would never felt safe enough to come tome in that time of need.

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  54. My favorite part of these chapters was when Adam talks about making home visits as the principal. The idea of helping make the bed, clean the room... I often found that it is much easier to talk to kids when you are doing something, not just sitting around talking to each other.

    The story of the prank and real phone calls with Ron Clark shows that Adam and Todd like to have fun; don't we want that for our students while they are learning?

    As many others have mentioned, I too find that often it's the unscripted times where you get to know kids the best. (Boy, am I glad that the book is called Kids Deserve It, so I assume it's okay to call our students "kids".) For some reason, the event that got me jazzed the most last year was... the National Junior Honor Society Canned Food Drive. Working together with students to plan it, devise the parameters and awards was very rewarding. (Plus driving around town for some great bargains!)

    One nice thing about being in the library is that many students who are behavior problems in class know that they have a fresh start when they come to me. And, if they happen to be a reader, they may look at the library as a special refuge.

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  55. I love having the students come in and give one positive thing that has happened for the day. I always use praise, smiles, and feedback on google forms and papers.

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  56. When I was in the classroom, I always tried not to send students out of my classroom. I knew it was an escape. Students learned they couldn't act out to escape the work or whatever was happening, but that we would work through it together. I taught special education at the high school level for 7 years. I heard my students say how no one believed in them until me. The lucky few had that one teacher before me that they felt believed in them. I saw the difference it made by having me believe in them. Many of them didn't have family support at home but didn't want to let me down. Those students forever impacted my life as well! I can't forget them. Many of them are still in contact with me today.

    I loved the ideas of Hats Off in these chapters and discussed it with an administrator in our district already!

    As an administrator, I am always looking for ways to motivate and encourage my staff! I would love to hear any ideas you have!

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  57. One way I connect with my students is to always try to be present. Too often I would find myself halfway listening while working on something else when kids would come up to talk. I have really made a conscious effort to put down whatever I am working on and truly listen. This was at first difficult for me as I felt like I had so much to do and such little time.
    Another way I connect with my students is to make time for the fun "get to know you" activities not only at the beginning of the school year but throughout the entire school year. Connecting with students is such a vital part of education. I enjoy the fresh reminder and perspective that this book provides.

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