Creating a Virtual Classroom Community
Building relationships with new students in a virtual classroom setting can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. As you move into this new (and very different) school year, it is more important than ever to create a welcoming classroom culture and a sense of community for your students—despite the distance. Here are a few tips for creating meaningful relationships and building a classroom community in a virtual space.
Set up morning or afternoon class meetings
Use regular meetings to build relationships or to share important information with students, such as weekly assignments and upcoming events. This time can also be used to hear from students about any concerns they may be having, such as technical issues or other challenges.
Incorporate social-emotional learning
Incorporate social-emotional learning (SEL) activities into the schedule, such as check-ins and mindfulness breaks, to ensure that students have a safe space to recognize and manage their feelings. During a stressful and uncertain time, we can all benefit from checking in and taking time to manage our feelings.
Host virtual classroom get-togethers
Pick a night for students and caregivers to come together online to showcase student work, have a talent show, etc. You can even have smaller breakout rooms so parents and students can get to know each other better.
Mail a handwritten card to students on their birthdays. Birthdays during a pandemic can be challenging, and this simple act can be incredibly meaningful.
Have lunch with your students
Consider having lunch with different small groups of students every once in a while to check in and provide more individualized attention.
Encourage student friendships
Social distancing shouldn’t mean social isolation. Encourage your students to communicate with one other outside of class hours. For younger students, this might require introducing caregivers over email so they can arrange a virtual hangout for their children.
Host a virtual spirit week
Assign dress-up themes for each day of the week to infuse excitement into the classroom and give everyone something to look forward to. For example:
- Wacky hat day
- Mismatched clothes day
- School colors day
- Favorite sports team day
- Backward day