5 Ways to Connect with Your Students Over the Break
Connie Hamilton on episode 219 [A special encore episode] of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Today Connie Hamilton @conniehamilton gives us five ways to connect with our students over the break. This is the number two episode of 2017. Listen to it now and plan ahead for by picking one or more of these ideas.
- Listen to the show on iTunes or Stitcher
- Stream by clicking here.
5 Ways to Hack Homework and Get Better Results
[Recording starts 0:00:00]
Stay tuned to the end of the show to learn how to figure out if my friend Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Workweek Club is right for you.
Do you want to start next school year ahead? Well, pick one of the five ways to connect with next year’s class and for the summer. This is Episode 95.
The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.
VICKI: So today, we’re talking with Connie Hamilton. @conniehamilton
She’s the author of Hacking Homework. http://amzn.to/2r6E1K9 But we’re actually talking about hacking your summer right now. Connie, you have five ways that we can connect with next year’s class over the summer. So how do we start?
CONNIE: Well, the first thing is to get a survey out to those kiddos as soon as possible. So if the school year hasn’t ended yet, get an interest survey out for students to find out what their likes are, what kinds of crazy pieces of information, tidbits that maybe the average person wouldn’t know. Collect as much information about students as possible. And try to keep it lighthearted and personal, not so much of the, you know, what are your goals for the school year kind of teachery stuff. But this is really a way to create some relationships with kids. It’s easy to do just kind of – paper pencil is one way you can do it, you can create a Google form and use a QR code; lots of different ways.
But first thing is, gather a survey so that you can get a lot of information about kiddos. Maybe you learn that – maybe you have a student that builds motorcycles. And so then you can use your summertime to look for ways within your natural curriculum to make connections to building things or problem-solving.
And so maybe when you get to a problem-solving section of your curriculum, you might go to that student and say; hey, when the bike doesn’t work, how do you go about fixing that? What is your process for solving that problem? And try to make some personal connections. So when you know what students’ interests are, you can look through that curriculum and try to find some of those connections.
VICKI: Fantastic. Because we have to relate before we can educate or innovate or create, or anything we try to do in our classroom. Okay, what’s next?
CONNIE: Next one is to set up a remind and invite students to take part of that. If you have younger students, invite parents so that this is a really easy way for you to make connections with one little click of the phone. So set up a Remind, https://www.remind.com/ and maybe you do a weekly countdown of, hey, we’re getting excited for back-to-school. Or, hey, we have this event that’s coming up. And that kind of leads me into the next one.
VICKI: Cool. Well, I actually use Bloomz www.bloomz.net for that. And it’s a fantastic idea to set that up. Instead of the first week, why not set it up a little early? I love that. Okay, what’s the next one?
CONNIE: So the next one is to set up just some times to get together in some places. And I think it’s really awesome to set up a little meet and greet or a gathering, something really casual, but off campus if possible. It’s fine to have kids meet on campus or at the school, but why not have younger kids meet at a McDonalds with a play land or at a local skate rink. Or if you have older students, maybe you find a place that has a really awesome lunch buffet and invite kids to come and have lunch with you a couple of times a year. So the reminders can set out through Remind or through – what did you say you use? Bloomz?
VICKI: I use Bloomz, B-L-O-O-M-Z. They have some similarities and differences, but it’s still just a tool to connect with kids.
CONNIE: Yeah. So super easy. Hey, don’t forget next Thursday; we’re meeting at such-and-such. We’re meeting at the park; I’m bringing popsicles. Or, hey, we’re meeting at the coffee. Just finding a place to have casual meetings. I think a lot of times, teachers try to – maybe, hey, let’s meet at the library; which is a great idea as well. And in this way, I’m just suggesting that maybe you make it a little bit lighter over the summer and just make your focus to be establishing relationships, and then you can make connections academically later.
VICKI: Oh, and, you know, some teachers are just listening to you, Connie, going; “I need my summer, I’m tired, you know?”
CONNIE: Yeah. Definitely. So do it once. Just do it once. And make it a place where you want to go anyway. So if you love Starbucks, then have it at Starbucks. If you have a favorite spot outside that you like to sit and enjoy the weather, make it there. Make it at a local park. Put it someplace that’s convenient for you and that you would choose to go anyway.
VICKI: Yeah. Okay, what’s our fourth?
CONNIE: Fourth one is going back to snail mail; sending out postcards. So while you’re gathering with the students, take selfies when you’re with them. And then it’s super easy to print out 4 X 6 photographs of those selfies. And those 4 X 6 photographs can serve as postcards. So you can send the postcard to students afterwards saying, hey, thanks; it was so great to see you, and can’t wait to see you again at open house. Or, thanks for stopping by, I really loved hearing about such-and-such that you told me. But I think students get so little mail in the mailbox. Everything is so digital these days. And especially the little kids, absolutely love getting a piece of mail with their name on it. So using snail mail. Postcards are cheaper than letters. So that’s why I suggest a postcard, and utilizing the pictures that you take, the selfies with the kids.
VICKI: Well, and you’re really talking about winning their hearts before the first day.
VICKI: That’s what you’re talking about; which does make your year go easier. I know the thought of work over the summer, but really it does if you’ve already got that relationship. Okay, what’s our fifth?
CONNIE: The fifth one is making phone calls. Making that connection, picking up that phone and just having a quick little conversation, or leaving a voicemail for students, but reaching out to them. Or if you have younger students, reaching out to their parents. And potentially setting up some reverse conferences where this parent is the one who tells you all about his or her child as opposed to you telling them all about how their child is engaging in the classroom. So I love it when teachers set up reverse conferences at the very beginning of the year or even the very end of the summer. And I know sometimes that that definitely can be a whole lot of time. So that might take some convincing of your administration to say, hey, I want to try something a little different here. But, boy, you want to talk about setting up a great rapport with families and parents right out of the gate to say, I just want to hear everything that you have to tell me about what’s so awesome about your child, and I’m going to take notes like crazy and use that throughout the year to make connections and make sure that I’m personalizing and differentiating for your student.
VICKI: Love that. And as we finish, I just want to add another little one. A lot of times, when I go to ISTE www.iste.org or conferences over the summer, I like to have a friend hold my phone and record a quick video and say, hey, I’m looking at this; I’m at this conference; I’m getting ready to teach you in the fall, and I’m really excited about this or that. And then sending them that video so they kind of get excited about what’s new or what’s different. I mean, there are so many creative ways, teachers, that you can really go into the school year ahead with a positive connection with those parents and kids.
And Connie has given us so many ideas. I just challenge you; try at least one, or try two, or you could go for all of these ideas. But pick a way to relate and a way to connect to these kids so you can start off the year ahead and make it a remarkable year.
This month, Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Workweek Club will open up for membership. And she only has two opencart dates a year. Now, I’ve been participating for a year and I have learned so much about classroom efficiency. But, it’s not for everybody. So I’ve got a link for you to a quick quiz that will help you understand if the 40 Hour Workweek Club would be right for you. Just go to http://ift.tt/2qVh0wn and take the quiz to see if the 40 Hour Workweek is right for you.
Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at http://ift.tt/2quX4Nu. Never stop learning.
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Bio as submitted
Connie Hamilton Ed.S. is a K-12 curriculum director in Saranac, Michigan where she has served the staff and community for the past 13 years. As a teacher, Connie taught various elementary grades and 8th grade ELA. As a national presenter, she provides professional development and coaching for teachers around many instructional topics such as questioning, assessment, literacy, and leadership.
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