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SD Department of Education
Aug. 2019  

TEACHER FEATURE: Building relationships with your students

We asked some South Dakota teachers how they work to build relationships with students as a new school year begins. Thank you to all South Dakota educators for the work you do every day. You make a difference in students’ lives. Make it a great school year!

Because student to teacher feedback is just as important as teacher to student feedback, my first question will be this: "What do you want to learn this year?"
--Gina Benz, English, Roosevelt High School (Sioux Falls)
2015 Milken Educator Award winner

From day one, you need to let your students see your passion and your commitment to them and to helping them learn. Make sure your students know that you will be there for them no matter what and together you will take on new challenges, face setbacks, and learn from both failures and successes.
--Carla Diede, National Board Certified Teacher, math, Harrisburg South Middle School
2017 Milken Educator Award winner

2013 Regional Teacher of the Year Tammy Jo Schlecter gathered input from the whole team at Deubrook Area Schools:
Our Dolphin Nation Team collaborated from classroom to the kitchen and everywhere in between to offer these ideas for the first days of school! Greet students at the door! Conversations are vital. Talk with the students about things they are interested in or are doing. Our staff spend lots of time sharing about our families, our hopes, and dreams. Create a classroom family inside a school family that cares for one another. How we teach is, perhaps, just as important as what we teach. Taking time to stop and talk to our students (and former students) outside our school building is where those relationships are developed and become long lasting! It’s the little things we do that let them know you care about them as individuals!

I take the students’ pictures the first week of school and make a “McMachen’s Mathematicians” bulletin board. I leave it up all year so we can see how they change throughout the school year. The kids love it!
-- Crystal McMachen, National Board Certified Teacher, math, Southwest Middle School (Rapid City)

To build long lasting, strong relationships with students in my class, I make learning fun, listen to them, and take an interest in their lives outside of the school day! When kids know you care, they will trust you and work harder to do their best!
-- Shelly Mikkelson, second grade, South Park Elementary (Belle Fourche)
2015 Regional Teacher of the Year

The first several days of school form the foundation for developing the vital relationships we have with our students. Greeting my students by name with a high five, handshake, and/or hug as they enter and leave our classroom, sitting down with them and having conversations about them, asking them questions about their family and interests, having time purposely built into our day to interact with one another and playing with them both in and outside of the classroom are a few ways that I connect with my students during the first days of school.
--Rachel Schaefer, kindergarten, Elkton Elementary
2018 South Dakota Teacher of the Year

Greet them at the door every day and learn their names and something about them as soon as possible. Don't waste the first day. Get them up doing something in your content area the very first day—preferably something that helps you all get to know each other and builds excitement for your content. If you teach science, do science the very first day!
-- Jessica Zwaschka, chemistry, Spearfish High School
2017 Regional Teacher of the Year

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