More educational institutions are focusing on building student-teacher relationships as a crucial aspect of the online learning experience. Building a rapport with students online is on every educational institution’s agenda since the virtual modes took over traditional forms of schooling. The involvement of faculty is a key aspect of providing the experience but not the only one. Right from enrollment, the conversations with academic counselors, documentation submissions and other formalities need to be intuitive and responsive to every student’s journey. This includes having a solid digital infrastructure in place as most students are digital natives and the thrill of the learning and education experience begins on their screens.
In this article, we explore some ways on how to improve student teacher interactions. Given the slightly complex challenge of improving engagement through an online medium, it is better for faculty and institutions to consolidate offline and online modes of enhancing student relationships which will contribute to learning and retention.
Social and emotional learning (SEL) is a methodology that helps students of all ages to comprehend their emotions, to feel them fully, and demonstrate empathy for others. SEL plays an important role in the wellbeing of students and many institutions are invested in solving the learning challenges of students on a digital platform and devise learning methodologies on how to improve student teacher relationships. In recent times, training faculty and student-facing staff of an educational institution on the nuances of SEL is seeing a rise. For students in high school, managing the mental and social aspects of their digital education are often the most challenging. The importance of social contact has a huge impact on general wellbeing and projects supporting learning outcomes using SEL must be in place. Keeping the student’s age, development, and common age-related challenges in mind is important for creating and delivering successful social-emotional learning models.
An online schooling strips away in-person interactions and the benefits of it. Face-to-face interactions help with building trust and understanding communication better through interpretation of body language. With interactions behind a screen now, the instances to communicate must be increased to try and replicate the experience of a personal interaction. Conversations with each or a group of students on how they are progressing with lessons and activities conducted outside school hours helps to build a healthy channel of communication between the teacher and the student.
Open feedback is important to grow personal and academic relationships. Faculty and representatives of the institution should actively give and seek feedback whenever possible. In order to do this, educators must take time out to analyze individual student growth paths and learning patterns to provide the best course of action for continued growth and learning. For students who need extra lesson support, options for furthering learning must be offered with the knowledge of parents so that serious interest in the child’s education is demonstrated.
Most of us carry fond memories of school in peer interactions on the playground or outside school, for example school trips and excursions. Taking ‘time off’ from the regularity of academics and investing time in fun group activities makes a difference in building a strong relationship between the educator and the student.
In 2020, we were made to understand and appreciate the value of physical interactions and their unseen benefits. As we adjust to the new norm of digital education, replacing such interactions in whichever way possible is paramount to avoid burnout and apathy. Increasing the frequency of such communications between the student and teachers seems to be a current ‘fix’ until schools open up or a hybrid model of education is set in place.