What has actually worked for building student-teacher relationships so far this year?

Educators share their strategies for connecting at a distance.


Time and time again, studies have shown that healthy relationships are one of the prime building blocks of successful schools. Solid student-teacher relationships lead to more positive attitudes about the classroom for both students and teachers and academic success and better long-term health for students. Even the presence of supportive relationships between administrators and teachers affect the way students thrive.

This fall, relationship-building in schools has looked a little different, to say the least. Over the last few months, we asked ASCD’s educator community on Twitter how they’ve connected with students during the coronavirus pandemic. Read on for a crowdsourcing of ideas on what it looks like to build community at a distance. As school counselor Phyllis Fagell wrote back in May, “[kids are] not going to remember what they learned during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020, but they will remember who helped them get through it.”

1. Hold space for conversations in smaller groups or one-on-one.

2. Write (literally or figuratively).

3. Focus on students’ interests and input.

4. Ask questions.

5. Play games.

6. Make it visual.

7. Set aside time for students to connect with each other.

8. Extend relationship-building spaces to teachers and families, too.

What other relationship strategies have worked for you this fall? Let us know in the comments.