Featured Insights Jul 13

Building connections this school year

The start of a new school year brings with it a host of emotions for both educators and their students: excitement, trepidation, and optimism, just to name a few. No matter how you’re feeling, there’s an easy way to kick the year off right—and that’s by building connections.

We know that when students are able to connect and form relationships with their teachers, they are more motivated and engaged in the classroom. And, connecting with students is why so many educators went into education in the first place—so, it’s a win-win! 

But the reality is that in today’s classrooms, there are many barriers to connection. How do you find time in an already busy school day to prioritize relationship building, what resources do you use to do it, and how do you even approach authentically connecting with so many individual students?

Solving the connection gap

The good news is that there is a way to overcome these barriers—what we call the “connection gap”—and Along is here to help. 

According to a recent report from our parent organization Gradient Learning:

  • Almost half of students surveyed prefer to connect with a teacher one-on-one. 
  • However, nearly a third (31%) of students said they are not having regular check-ins with their teacher. 
  • And, a total of 35% of students surveyed said they are not reaching out to a teacher because it’s awkward or uncomfortable for them to do so.

Using Along, educators can help guide their students to foster authentic connections and to learn how to relate. These are critical life skills that go beyond academics and can have long-lasting impacts on students’ sense of self and overall life outcomes.

Connection before content

A foundation of strong teacher-student relationships can help students down a path toward academic success. And, the beginning of a school year is a particularly important time to lay this groundwork. 

As Sarah Styles, a teacher at Rhodes Junior High School, shared, “Before you can even start teaching content, you really have to develop those relationships with kids. Without those relationships, they’re not learning in the way that they could. Every teacher will tell you that the kids you have the relationships with are the most engaged in class.”

Start with a simple question

So, where do you start? With Along, a first-of-its-kind teacher-student connection builder, educators can cultivate these supportive relationships in a fun way. Along is easy to use and requires no set-up. Just open up any browser, and you can begin jumpstarting meaningful reflections with your students—for free.

Educators can choose from a library of research-informed reflection questions that are simple, yet powerful. Connecting through a question such as, “Tell me about your name. Do you know where it came from? Is there a story behind it?,” will help students and teachers see each other as actual people and start to understand each other. And from there, real connections and community can form in the classroom.

With a new school year almost upon us, the Along team is here to support educators with a meaningful solution for forming real connections with their students. If you’re interested in learning more, sign up for free today or reach out to support@along.org. Happy connecting!

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