Peek-a-boo is an awesome game to play with a wee little monkey- why?
Because it is about connecting with another person through your eyes and your gestures. It is a foundational game supporting a lifetime of connecting with people.
In schools, connection is key to all student success. Our kiddos need to feel wanted, appreciated, needed, and valued in the school community. Without feeling this way, a student is likely to not have the same kind of success they would if they felt positively connected.
How can you start to really connect with your students at this point in the year? OR how can you build a strong connection at this point in the year?
The first thing you need to do is make sure you want to make or strengthen a connection. You need to be real- kiddos will know if you are sincere or not. Making a connection is intentional. It is intentional in that you need to leave your 'lesson plans' & 'data' at the door when you are building and strengthening your relationship with your students.
Take the child's lead. So much about being inclusive is about the individual- building a relationship is no different. You will connect differently to each of your students- there is no script or lesson plan to building a meaningful bond. Observe your students- figure out what they like or where their interests are, and go from there. There are no mistakes in building a relationship with a student as long as you are being sincere, honest, and authentic.
Have fun. This is the part of teaching where you will grow, learn, laugh, and you will remember your students for their awesomeness. I always start a new school year focusing on class management and behaviour management. Building a strong classroom community starts with a respect and understanding for one another- in other words a relationship. Once these relationships have started through early positive connections, I continue to foster them throughout the year. Some connections are easier than others- sometimes I really have to leave my comfort zone or think outside of the box. That is ok- that is the learning part!
Keeping in mind, the students with whom you struggle to connect are the ones you need to play 'peek-a-boo' with all the time. Get down at their level, look in their eyes, play with their toys in their way- meet them where they are comfortable. Use your actions, your gestures, and, ultimately, your words to build strong and authentic connections with each of your students. It is these connections that are the foundation of your inclusive classroom.