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MORE Tools and Tips for Building Relationships with Students

As an educator, you may be asking yourself how you will support your students this year. In my previous podcast episode, I discussed ways to build relationships with students before entering the classroom. Today, I am talking about how we can support those relationships by giving our learners the power of bringing their voices forward through Project-Based learning principles. Our first principle is known as voice and choice. We will also discuss the importance of empathy in the classroom.

Choices are added as they're introduced and expectations are set.

How To Provide Choices While Remaining in Control: I know what you're thinking, "Matt, if I give my young learners' choices, my classroom will go off the rails." While I certainly understand your concern, I can assure you that when done correctly, supplying your students with a voice and choice in how and what they are learning has been shown to increase engagement and strengthen bonds. Once a student knows that you trust them to make decisions, their self-confidence grows!

Next is introducing choices slowly, over time, and aligning the available options to the student's current level of understanding and growth. To guide students and maintain order in our classrooms, I suggest initially giving students no more than two choices. I also go through several opportunities to introduce voice and choice around the areas of:

  • Reading

  • Writing

  • Seating

  • Math

  • And even when selecting their learning partners.

Lastly, I explore the true definition of empathy (spoiler alert, it may not be what you think) and how you can reconnect with your inner child through song and dance. The significance of empathy cannot be overstated. Our students will be making significant adjustments this year. It will be important as early educators to meet our students where they are by leaning into where we were at their age.

Me in kindergarten. Yes, the dimples are still here.

Here is my challenge to you, display your elementary school picture in your classroom! And if you are feeling really bold, tag me in your school picture on Instagram -@matthalperneducation. I'd love to see and share it! This small gesture will make your students giggle AND serve as a gentle reminder that you once needed the guidance and support you are giving.

Are you curious to explore how to introduce voice and choice into your curriculum? Check out the latest episode of the podcast:

Are you ready to bring research-based strategies to your school or district? Contact me by clicking here.

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