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A vision for relationship building: Thompson Intermediate School

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With the 2022-23 school year starting across the country, educators are getting to know their new students and looking for the best solutions for forming these important one-on-one relationships. Here at Along, we know that educators are still experiencing challenges stemming from COVID-19 and that schools are dealing with unprecedented teacher shortages. As an organization made up of educators, we created Along as a solution that takes just minutes to sign up and use.

We don’t just want you to take our word for it. Our team works directly with educators and schools across the country to roll out Along on their campuses—for free, always—and the results have been inspiring. Our teacher-student connection builder was adopted school-wide at Thompson Intermediate School in Houston, Texas at the start of the 2021-22 school year. Thompson educator Nicole Horne-Sherman told us that Along changed the dynamic of her homeroom “unlike any other thing that I’ve seen.” And student Da’Marcus H. shared that since using Along, coming to school just feels different. He said, “It feels like your community here at school is more supportive.”

After a full school year of using Along, Thompson’s school leader and staff shared with us their vision behind their Along roll-out and how Along helped to shift their school culture. Here are just a few of their findings:

Start with an understanding of the state of relationships

Thompson school leader Tanis Griffin approached the start of 2021-22 with a specific goal: to emphasize teacher-student relationship building. That’s because she had data to back her up. At the start of the year, students took a survey about their well-being, which revealed that many students were experiencing stress and difficulty relating to teachers, peers, and families. 

Griffin said, “My vision was, we’ve got to embed time to allow for relationship building. The first step was to talk to my staff about it and say everyone has been through so much uncertainty and trauma. We need to really put some time and effort in building these relationships with kids.”

Go all in: whole-school adoption of Along

With the staff fully on board with a vision of building relationships, Griffin introduced Along during professional learning at the start of the school year. The collective decision was for teachers to share a new reflection with their homeroom students every week.. 

Over the course of the school year, Thompson educators sent 1,268 reflection questions, leading to over 9,000 student responses—  a 95% response rate. Though the numbers tell a compelling story, it was the teacher-student experiences that made a daily impact in Thompson’s classrooms. As history teacher Robert Boyes shared, “You’re starting a relationship that would not normally be there in an everyday setting. And now they send back videos to me and I think that’s awesome.”

Create space for consistent connection

All types of students began sharing using Along as a direct-to-teacher form of communication. And while the tool is dedicated to one-on-one responses via video, audio, and text, the in-person impacts on communication were prevalent, too.

Thompson educator Kelli Moneyhun shared an example about a student who initially had difficulty forming a relationship with her teachers. “She was new and teachers weren’t able to form relationships with her,” said Moneyhun. “But with Along, since it’s over software, she started building a relationship with her homeroom teacher immediately because she just doesn’t like to talk. It kind of opened a window for her teacher to take what was happening on Along, and then bring that to a verbal conversation and really start opening up.”

To read more about how Along impacted the Thompson community last year, please visit our full series of case studies, videos, and stories:

Interested in trying Along at your school? Please reach out to our team today!

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