McKenna Garrison joined the iCEV marketing team in 2022 as the Content Marketing Specialist. Originally from a small town on the Gulf of Mexico, Garrison attended Texas Tech University from which she graduated with a B.A. in Public Relations & Strategic Community and an M.A. in Mass Communication & Media Studies. Garrison looks forward to bringing more of a storytelling element to iCEV social media pages. She also hopes to connect other CTE educators from around the country to the incredible curricula and resources iCEV has to offer.
When COVID-19 hit, many educators were suddenly faced with connecting and building relationships with their students in a virtual classroom environment. Now, a few years later, some of those students have come back to school while others have remained at home, learning in a virtual environment.
So how exactly do you create rapport with students over a computer screen? In this blog, we’ll explore why positive rapport is necessary for student success and the strategies educators can implement in their classrooms to build rapport.
Why Rapport is Necessary for Student Success
Rapport can be defined as “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other's feelings or ideas and communicate well.” In education, positive rapport between the teacher and student is when you can connect, trust, interact and respect one another in a positive way.
The result of building rapport with students? Students will not only feel more comfortable in class, but they can also feel more motivated to participate, which can lead to improved academic success. Additionally, in a virtual environment, students who have a positive rapport with their teacher will feel more motivated to continue to log in and attend class every day.
Tips for creating rapport in your classroom
Ease into the class with a soft start
A soft start is a gentle invitation into your classroom. Students need time to transition from topic to topic or even to begin the day. Jumping straight into a classroom discussion or even schoolwork can seem overwhelming. By giving 5 to 15 minutes for students to transition into their classroom environment with their learning experience of choice, students can be more focused and ready to learn.
Examples of soft start activities:
Read an article or book of choice
Play a game together as a class
Reflect with journal prompts
Chat with classmates in breakout rooms
Learn about your students and vice versa!
Getting to genuinely know your students can impact your rapport. From their favorite type of music to when their birthday is, students want to know that you care for them and are excited when they show up to class every day.
Additionally, they want to know more about you! Share appropriate pieces of your life. Whether it’s playing a few songs you like or showing pictures of your pets, students will feel more comfortable and connected to you when you let your personality shine through.
Give consistent feedback
Giving consistent and personalized feedback to students is a great way to build rapport. While giving feedback can be tricky and perceived as a double-edged sword, being unbiased, intentional and focused can help increase students’ success as well as build positive rapport.
Give feedback on the process or task rather than the student.
Praise the student’s effort not their intelligence or talent
Keep feedback simple, specific and clear
Offer opportunities for 1:1s or conference calls
In a virtual setting, students can find it difficult to chat with their teacher about needing help or discussing themselves in front of their peers. By offering scheduled 1:1s, office hours, or conference calls, students can use that time set aside for them specifically to address their own concerns or problems that they would like your help with.
In short, building rapport with students in a virtual environment is no easy task but with intention, consistency and a smidge of vulnerability, you and your students will be clicking in no time.