6 ways to start the semester strong

The new semester has begun, and has already had its share of bumps and surprises. Whether you’re back to remote learning or teaching in person, engaging and checking in with your students has never been more important. Let Along help you start the semester on the right foot by strengthening relationships.

Here are six easy ideas to set yourself up for success.

1. Create a classroom of connection. 

Just because there are different dynamics in a classroom doesn’t mean the space can’t feel like a place of respect. In fact, creating an environment that feels safe and welcoming is one of the best strategies to have a successful semester. It enables students to let their guard down and focus on the lesson in front of them. So how do we create that connection? A good place to start is with two Along activities. Check out Make a Strength Chains and the Weave a Web of Support to get students seeing themselves and one another from a fresh perspective.

2.  Connect with shy students.

Every student deserves to feel heard, especially the ones who don’t speak up. These students can sometimes be overlooked when they just haven’t had a chance to find their voice. By checking in with these students through Along, you can give them the opportunity to speak up in a way that feels comfortable to them — where they don’t need to worry about peer pressure.

Insider Info:  Nicole Cannon, a health teacher at Thompson Intermediate School in Houston, Texas, explains, “[Along] really impacts those students who may not be vocal. It reaches those shy students and gives them the opportunity to tell the teacher more things about them without putting them on the spot.”

3. Find time in busy schedules.

We know that finding the time for checking in on students can feel like a hurdle. The feeling of go-go-go can get in the way of strengthening relationships. That’s why Along was designed to break through that barrier and to work with your schedule. It can be used on different devices at any time of the day, including after class time. The result? By making some small tweaks to your weekly routine, you create the foundation for a smoother, more connected semester ahead. Taking a few moments now can make a big difference for the months to come.

For tips on integrating Along into your schedule, check out our teacher resource here.

4. Get to know new students. 

A new semester can mean new faces. To help ease their transition and to make them feel comfortable, we suggest taking a look at the Get to Know Students collection in Along. There you’ll find questions, classroom activities, and educator practice resources designed for getting a better sense of a student’s life and interests. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to play catch-up and help new students feel part of the classroom community. 

5. Overcome restlessness. 

At some point this semester, students are going to hit a wall. It might have even happen earlier than expected due to the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. No matter what the future holds, Along can help you keep your students motivated. Take a look at the Understand Students as Learners collection to gather insights into what makes your students excited to learn. These insights put you one step ahead of the game and will prove invaluable if motivation wanes.

6. Embrace the unexpected and go light-hearted.

Sometimes a shared laugh can go further than a heart-to-heart. When it comes to connecting with students, feel free to lighten the mood. We’ve recently added new reflection questions that do just that. Here are two questions that open up conversations in completely unexpected ways.

  • Which is better: cookies or cake? Why?
  • If you could be one character from a movie, TV show, or book, who would you pick? Why?

When students learn that they can be casual around their teachers, they feel greater freedom to be themselves. And you might be surprised by how much you can learn through a conversation about cookies versus cake.

By starting the semester with Along, you have a powerful tool to make it a rewarding season of learning. From forming relationships with newcomers to bonding with students in new ways, you’re set to keep students engaged, motivated and connected.

Do you have colleagues who could use a hand starting off the semester? Along is here to strengthen their relationships. Tell them about Along today.