Distance learning can have its challenges, but even if you teach from home, you can still build relationships with your students!  Online instruction doesn’t have to limit how to stay connected with your students.  In fact, these 5 teacher tips for remote learning will help you with student engagement and help students develop their social emotional learning!

I can’t wait to show you them all,






Note from Parent

The screen can seem to build a barrier between us and our students, but that really doesn’t have to be the case. Just look at what one parent wrote to me in an email when I was transitioning her daughter into my remote class.

Making that effort just made a huge difference in building our relationship and bringing that student and others into the classroom. Well, I’m gonna break it down into five ways to break that virtual barrier, and give you some strategies that just might work for you.



Show Your Face

One way to build relationships is to share and it’s never too late to do this. You can just share a little bit of yourself with your students.

One way to go about that is to show your face put your camera on and show that face of yours and try to make the time that you spend showing your face on camera more than when you’re doing your slides or using your document camera. I love taking some time to make an emphasis of actually showing my face to my students. I might even say, “I want to look at you for this point,” and emphasize a really good point that I’m trying to make and give them a moment to look into my eyes as I’m saying something that I really wanna stress to them.

It’s a really good idea to make sure you can toggle among all the different camera views that you wanna use in your remote classroom. Sometimes you wanna do your slide presentation, sometimes you wanna do your document camera, and oftentimes you wanna always come back to your face.

Share about YOU!

Another way to share is by doing something like a meet the teacher, where you just kind of share a little bit about yourself, and this doesn’t have to be something huge and planned out, it can be on the spur of the moment.

Let’s say you’re drinking your favorite coffee, share your favorite coffee mug with them, or maybe you’re using a pen that really you kind of like using, go ahead and share that as well. Maybe you happen to have your dog come in with a ratty old toy, that’s another thing to share with your class.

The more of those ordinary things that you can share with your students, the better. That’s how we build relationships, is by giving some personality behind the screen.

And it’s also fun to then invite your students to share something as well. Now I know this can kind of get a little off track sometimes, but allowing for a couple of kids to share a quick thing is really a super beneficial way to build relationships.

And remember, it’s not just about you building relationships with your students but them building relationships with each other. So giving them the opportunity, not just to share a little bit here and there, but then maybe giving them that chance to also unmute themselves and respond to each other. That connection between peers is so, so important.

Share off Camera

Now, sharing can also happen off the camera and on a different type of platform, such as a Padlet or a Jamboard. Using still pictures or quick messages can be a really fun way for students to share with one another. And for you and your students to share between yourselves as well.

Here’s one where students were sharing pictures of their pets. And another one when they were sharing summer plans and this Jamboard is a collection of favorite movies to watch over the weekend.  (See images in video.)

2. Reach Out

The second way that you can really build good relationships with your remote students is to reach out.

I remember back in high school our field hockey mantra was communication is the key to success. And that life lesson has lasted with me for years. If parents and students are left in the dark, then it does no good for anyone including you.

Now I’m not saying send out daily or even weekly emails to your classes. If you do, that’s fantastic, communication is great, but you don’t wanna burn out your parents and you certainly don’t wanna burn out yourself with too much communication. But when it’s something that’s really important or the beginning of a project or your students are doing something great and you want their families to know about it and bring it up to them in the evening, then that is a great time to make sure that you’re making some great communication home to parents and families.

And you may even consider sending notes or emails or messages to your students as well. A little message can go a long way. You can even use your learning management systems such as Google Classroom to do this kind of a thing. Use that Stream Board to add a little comment or send a message. You can even send a message to just one or two students to really focus in on what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to. Again, a little communication can go a long way.

3. Designate a Time to Connect

The number three way to building relationships with your students even remotely is designating time to connect with your students.

Morning Meeting

Maybe you have the opportunity to have a morning meeting and this could be anything from 10 to 30 minutes where you’re able to connect with your students and get them set for the rest of their day and let’s face it, it can get your day off to a great start too. During these morning meetings, you can share activities such as what I had already mentioned in this video, and also taking some time to allow the students to greet one another. I do this every Monday morning, where I give the kids a chance, one by one to unmute themselves and just say hi to the class. And yeah, I have to call them out by name to make sure they know who’s being unmuted at what time, but it’s all good because we get to hear those students’ voices and they get to say a nice message to the rest of the class.

Five Minute Check-Ins

If your schedule doesn’t allow for an entire morning meeting then maybe you just use the first five minutes of your class, where you can allow for some time to connect with your students with a quick check-in. And that brings us to number four way to build relationships, when you’re teaching remotely, student check-ins. Now these check-ins can be small and they can be big. So let’s look at a couple of different ways you can do this.

4. Student Check-Ins


Thumbs is a great way to do a quick check-in and it’s very visual so you can see it all at once. I often do this after lunch or after a snack break, where my students are coming into the remote classroom. And I just ask them to give me thumbs on how they’re doing and I can do a quick check-in that way. And then I might invite a couple of students to just elaborate on where their thumb was and to let us all know how their day is actually going.

Fist to Five

Another variation on that is a fist to five. I like doing these fist to fives at the end of the day, where a fist means they did not have a good day, and a five would be that they’ve had a fantastic day. And if I feel I need to really check in with them, I can make a breakout room and do that or I can make it a point to have them stay after everyone else has left, so that we can chit chat a little bit about what happened during their day.

Highs and Lows

Another great way to check in with your students is to use highs and lows. This is a terrific thing to do, if you have small groups or you can also translate this into the chat in your classroom. So if you have a small group, you can go around the circle, so to speak, and ask each student to give a high and a low. And it’s a good way to kind of get their temperature of how things are going in their day and to elicit some conversation between you and the student and among their peers as well. If you do this in the chat, you can ask the students to mention a high and mentioned a low inside the chat and then go through and pick out a few that you wanna mention to the whole entire class and maybe it brings up some good conversation that way as well.

The Best Sentence Starter

My absolute favorite way to do a check-in with my students is with a wonderful SEAL tool where the kids go on a Google form and they actually fill in the same sentence five different times. I want my teacher to know that…

This allows the students to tell me absolutely anything that’s on their mind. I hear about their favorite toys, I hear about their interests, I hear about their struggles, I hear about what went really well on any certain day or week, and it gives me so much insight into my students. I can then follow up with them by sending them a message, or sending them an email, or even talking to them one-on-one in a breakout room, or by asking them to hang out after everyone’s left.

This is such a great way to really dig into what your students are thinking about. And I don’t do this check-in just once in a while, but I actually do it once a week. That connection that we lose when we are not face-to-face can be rekindled by doing some of these check-ins and then following up with our students at a later time. If you want a copy of the Google form that I use every single week with my remote students, here’s the link where you can grab that right now.

Get the free resource now!

5. Have Fun!

The fourth way to build relationships with your remote class is to have some fun.

Sometimes you just need to have a little fun. And scheduling this in is also a good idea. It boosts morale, it gets them to smile, and it certainly build some relationships. These fun little ideas are great also to have in your back pocket just in case you have that extra five minutes or so that you need to make sure you’re occupying their time before they head off to the next class or it’s time for lunch.

Scavenger Hunt

One of my favorite ways to have fun with my students is to send them on a scavenger hunt where I have a list of five or so things and I ask them one thing at a time to go find it and bring it back and show the rest of the class.

A twist on this is to have them go find certain items, bring it back and then create something. For example, one time I had them go find a piece of toilet paper, a marker, something hard and something blue. And then I asked them to take those four things and create something to show off to their classmates, it made for quite a few laughs.

This or That?

Another fun game is to do this or that and just have them choose between one thing and another. And what I asked them to do is either shift to this side of the screen or shift to that side of the screen, if you’re a dog person you might shift over here, if you’re a cat person you may shift over here, it’s just a fun way to kind of do a little get to know you and it also is a great way to spend your last five or so minutes of time before you have to move on to your next thing.

Spirit Week

And even if you’re remote, don’t underestimate the fun of spirit week type of activities like Crazy Hair Day, Pajama Day, Crazy Sock Day, all those kinds of things still work in a remote classroom setting, kids love getting dressed up and showing off some fun in their lives.

Create Together

And don’t underestimate the value of creating things together as a class even remotely. Do a directed drawing together or maybe just a free draw. You could do some origami as a class or any number of seal activities. I’ll even link to some of these great opportunities down in the resources section for you. Creating art as a class even online is a great way to get to know each other and to build relationships.

And if creating some art with your class is something you would like to know even more about, go up to the video and subscribe to my channel and hit that bell to be notified because I’m going to be sharing with you so many more ideas and activities of just how to do that.

The more you do to build relationships the better and you don’t have to do it all. Choose a couple of things to start with, do what works best for you and then build from there and remember to always get yourself inspired so that you can be inspiring to your students.



How to Build Trust with Your Students https://youtu.be/WRfKn3w3Kd8 

Ready to Create Together? 

How to Make a Dada Poem https://youtu.be/sqEGive7Eds 

How to Make a Flextangle https://youtu.be/mHQGikrVYE4 

How to create an Origami Pumpkin https://youtu.be/fqzY2uh8bRk 


“I Want my Teacher to Know That” SEAL Tool for a student check-in


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