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Episode Info: As an educator, you are a community builder. From day one, you getting to know your students on a relational level. It’s often in the little things, like sending an email the first time they miss a virtual class session. It’s what happens when you give them opportunities to pursue their interests and chase their curiosity. As the community builder, you also set the tone for the class culture by facilitating the creation of classroom norms and procedures. On a daily level, you set the tone with your approach to classroom management and in subtle things like language and tone and the sense of humor you bring to the community. You also help teams solve problems and resolve conflict during collaborative work. You find creative ways to develop trust and create a sense of presence even when students are working remotely. This last spring, as we shifted into quarantine, teachers did an amazing job building community at the collective level and engaging relationally with students on the individual level. I’ve seen so many examples of teachers making phone calls to families, having class video conferencing meetings to just do a pulse check on each child, and going out of their way to make sure kids know that there’s an adult out there who cares. I’ve seen third grade teachers doing read alouds and last spring, I noticed all the high school teachers writing positive notes to seniors knowing all the things they will miss out on. At the university level, I am watching professors eagerly learning how to use video conferencing technology to make sure they continue to connect with their students. Professors all around me are making phone calls to students see how students are doing mentally and emotionally. They’re checking in with them before the start of the school year. Certain professors are connecting with local agencies for students who have are experiencing trauma. It is a bold reminder that in higher education, professors might be experts in a specific field or domain but they are also deeply dedicated to the classroom community. This sudden shift toward emergency pandemic teaching has been a reminder that teaching is inherently relational and educators at every level care deeply about those they serve. However, this year feels different. In the spring, many teachers had already built community in a face-to-face way. But what does it mean to build community and get to know your students in hybrid and virtual environments? In the next few weeks, we’ll be exploring this topic in-depth. Next week, we’ll explore ways to set up virtual check-ins. Later, I’ll share strategies for how you can empower your classroom community as a whole in virtual and distance learning environments. Listen to the Podcast If you enjoy this blog but you’d like to listen to it on the go, just click on the audio below or subscribe via  Apple Podcasts (ideal for iOS users) on Stitcher (ideal for Android users), on Amazon Podcasts, or on Spotify. http://www.spen...
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