The one with virtual classroom community building

Building relationships is a huge part of being a successful teacher. How does this work when I can’t have a community meeting on the carpet? Or I can’t greet my students at the doorway because we have to be socially distant? Or because we’re not even in school? How do I get to know this class like my other classes when I’m not with them every day?

Image: Woman using laptop with chalkboard in the background, Text: Virtual Community Building, starting relationships when you're not physically together
There are so many little ways that I connect with my class, and I’m slowly developing some ideas for how I will do this whether we are in a building together or not.
    1. Morning/Community Meetings: These WILL happen! During the spring, we had two Google Meets per week that were just for community building. I would also leave prompts in my Google Classroom for my students to respond to, because not all of my kiddos were able to make it to live Google Meets. During our live meets, we would answer some themed questions- Motivational Monday, Talk it Out Tuesday, Would You Rather Wednesday, etc. These are similar to what we did in the classroom, so that was an easy way to connect virtually. I plan to do something similar when school starts back up, hoping that my new class will warm up to our routine. My classes always love the routine, and now, creating a routine is more important than ever. Here’s a free set of morning message questions to start off your school year! 
    2. Invite Counselor/Special Area teachers to Meets/Zooms: In normal world, these teachers would have regular lessons with my class. The kids would see us interact and know that we communicate and I like to hear about what they’re doing in other classes. It’s important for my new class to see that even though we’re physically separated, all of the adults are working together to support them. In the spring, our counselor stopped by one time to say hi and our music teacher came and played a game with my class. I could tell my students really enjoyed seeing her face, 
    3. Virtual Calming Room: After a PD at the beginning of summer about trauma-informed practices, I created a virtual calming room. In my physical classroom, I had a calm corner with a special chair and space so students could relax. We worked on a combination of students knowing when they need to chill, or me to them to go sit in our calm corner before returning to our regular work. This space helped my students to know that I was there for them emotionally, even when they weren’t feeling 100%. The virtual calming room will work if we’re in the classroom because it will require less concern about sanitizing, and if we’re not in the classroom, it’s an online resource available to my students. If you’re in need of a tutorial, check out my highlights on . 
Virtual calming room strategy for building relationships with students
I created a Google Slide and linked the images to different sounds, images, or activities.

4. Google Form Check Ins: This is something I didn’t do in the spring, but I wish I had. I always invited my students to check in with me, but our school doesn’t let them have email accounts, so they could only leave me private comments on assignments. That was incredibly hard to keep up with because I had three different classrooms and I had to turn notifications off. Boom! Enter the “Checking In” Google Form. My Google Form is a private way for students to let me know how they’re feeling. My plan is to have them fill it out once a week, but I can also change or adapt that later if we need more check ins. Get the link for the Google Form sent to your email here. Google Form helps to build community and connect with students

If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them! Leave a comment or send me an email
Build classroom community virtually with these four ideas

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