When social distancing started I was overwhelmed looking at Twitter, so many creative teachers finding such unique ways to stay connected with their students.  If I am sharing my true thoughts right now, I had mixed emotions on this:                      

  • Impressed – With how positive and dedicated educators are                                                    
  • Sad – Shouldn’t we be reaching out and connecting with students like this all the time….not just during a pandemic?!?!       
  • Lucky – My daughter’s teacher is going out of her way to stay connected
  • Honored –  That I get to be a part of a profession with such dedication and creativity           
  • Jealous – Knowing I would never have been this creative if I were still in the classroom.  

Although a mix of emotions, I have come to the conclusion that sometimes it takes something BIG to create positive long-lasting change. So with that I’ve been collecting ideas, strategies, and creative ideas that I’ve seen on social media, heard from colleagues, neighbors, or witnessed first hand of how teachers are staying connected through the pandemic!  

Here are my top 3 favorite ideas that I’ve seen and would like to share with you to spark creativity and connectedness with our students during this pandemic:

  • Make each student a special message on Flipgrid:  @hayes_melisa mailed each student a unique QR Code that brought each of them their very own message from her via FlipGrid.  Included in the mail was not only the QR code but also a package of seeds for them to grow at home. What a unique surprise for kiddos to get in the mail! 
  • Writing postcards, letters, etc. – Each week my daughter receives 1-3 personalized pieces of snail-mail from her school.  The unique thing about this experience has been that the mail hasn’t just come from her teacher, she received mail from her principal, secretary, next year’s teacher, and yes, obviously her teacher.  This has been such a great way to stay connected not just with her teacher, but the school.  Her teacher has even taken the time to write my husband and I letters and postcards encouraging us to keep up the great work.  Can’t think of a better example of creating a school community and family support!!
  • Finally, @missallen1234 & @stacyCowdery connects with their students by creating #flatteacher activities :

    What a unique way to encourage your students to stay active, engaged, and letting them know you wish you were with them!

I am a HUGE fan of Greg Wolcott (@GregJWolcott). I came across this retweet/resource that I thought was worth sharing. It’s the 2X4 Relationship Building Calendar.  Spend just 2 minutes a day with 4 different students connecting, reaching out, building relationships – you will be amazed by the change you see in your classroom/building community. 

I am encouraged to see so many educators going above and beyond to make connections and work to continue to build relationships with their students and families.  I am hopeful that these ideas and efforts continue into the fall and beyond, even when we are with them in the classrooms once again.  

Please feel free to share how you have stayed connected and built relationships with your students throughout these trying times – let’s keep the creativity going and work together to create relationships that last! Keep up the great work!

Katie Algrim – Director of Innovative Professional Learning

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