4 quick tips to build connections with students through reading
By: Christina Ostrander, Fourth-Grade Teacher, USA
“The positive teacher-student relationship is thus important not so much because this is worthwhile in itself, but because it helps build the trust to make mistakes, to ask for help, to build confidence to try again, and for students to know they will not look silly when they don’t get it the first time.”
– John Hattie & Gregory Yates, Visible Learning and the Science of How we Learn
There is a tremendous amount of power behind the quote above. Many of us will greet new and familiar faces in the coming weeks of the school year. The beginning of the school year marks an important time to build connections and trust with students. Below, I’ve shared four quick tips on how I build these connections and trust through reading.
1. Daily classroom read-alouds. Get in front of your class and share a good picture book. Whether it is the great story of School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex or Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev, a good picture book allows for a shared classroom experience that can be reflected upon and discussed. These texts build context in which students can share what they know with you and each other. It’s a terrific way to connect, especially if you can choose a topic that may touch on a particular area of interest of a targeted student. Keep track of those read-alouds and celebrate the authors and books you read as a class throughout the school year.
2. Classroom book clubs that dive deep into the experiences of students.Reading Refugee by Alan Gratz allows middle-grade students to dive deeply into the current issues surrounding refugees while also referencing historical events. Want something for younger students? Jim Ugly by Sid Fleischman will keep any primary school reader on the edge of his or her seat and wanting to read more. Book clubs build interest around different genres and help students create connections to other books simply by them sharing their likes and dislikes of a book with others. The best is when students are able to create video book trailers of these well-loved and read novels!
3. Classroom and student goal setting allow reading goals to be achieved and celebrated. Setting a target is a great way for students to stretch for success. I use Renaissance Accelerated Reader® because it gives points for each successful quiz. It’s a quick tool for students and teachers to track the amount of successful reading that is occurring. I’ve offered recess, prizes, and parties for my classes when they reach important reading goals as individuals or a class. I’ve been able to connect with so many students as we celebrated a perfect Accelerated Reader quiz. High-five!
4. Shared readings of a great novel builds a common experience for the class. We all have our favourites that showcase an amazing plot that builds suspense, and delivers uplifting moments or even quivering sadness. Living through these moments together helps build a unity among students and their teachers. Building and sharing a LOVE for dynamic characters is another great way to connect. Who can’t help but love the actions of Auggie Pullman and Jack in Wonder or the courage and intensity of Jen Talbot from Among the Hidden?
These simple tips allow you as the teacher to create meaningful conversations around reading. Thus, building an awareness of student needs and increasing the confidence of the mighty readers we meet and interact with daily in our schools.