Connecting with Your Students (VSS2010)

Yesterday I sat in on several sessions at the Virtual School Symposium in Glendale, Arizona. Two turned out to be vendor driven, one never really got to the point and one truly provided some great ideas to think about.

The presenters were from the Branson School Online. Leanna Christians is the K-12 virtual principal and Christina Narayan is an elementary virtual school teacher. The theme of their presentation was the “Circle of Trust”. The idea that you don’t want anyone involved with the school to feel outside the circle. They talked about parents, students, teachers, administration and staff.

The entire time I was listening to Leanna and Christina I was thinking about how everything they were saying applied to every BAM (Bricks and Mortar) school.

Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Students need to connect with other students
    • Leadership groups
    • Peer counseling
    • peer tutoring
    • social events to build community
    • class pets (whether real or stuffed)
    • Reading buddies
    • Collaborative storytelling
    • Blogging
    • Group discussions
    • Learning Circles
    • “Gotcha” awards if the student is doing something exceptional
  • Survey families about themselves
    • They use Google Forms to do this
    • Christina subscribes to Hallmark.com for $10 a year in order to send out digital birthday cards to students and parents.
  • Administrators need to connect with the teachers
    • teachers should feel safe and free to take risks
    • admins can connect with staff via phone or e-mail
    • Administrators should make sure that teachers are competent in their abilities
  • The school needs to connect with parents
  • The school needs connections to the Community
    • College Fairs
    • County Parks
    • Career Planning
    • Field trips with other schools

In Leanna’s closing comments she said “if you don’t fail at atleast one thing, you are not trying hard enough”.

I challenge you to find three new ways you can connect better with your students and then implement them!

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