Relationship building questions for the start of the school year

Tal, Teacher

The start of each school year brings excitement and nerves for students and teachers alike. A smooth start helps everyone in the classroom prepare for learning, and settle quickly into the rhythm of the year. 

Crucial to student learning is a sense of connection to the school community, but especially to teachers. Building personal relationships by getting to know students both 1-on-1 and in an open setting can help settle early nerves, and enhance students’ desire to learn and participate. 

Research suggests that positive relationships with students :

  • Builds motivation
  • Creates a safe space for learning
  • Builds new pathways for learning in the brain
  • Improves behaviour 

Get to know your new students

There are many intuitive ways you can connect with your new students. Starting each day or week at the beginning of a new school year with some simple but effective questions is a great way to show students that you are interested in them and their lives, goals and interests. (Hint: schedule these in your Ziplet classes so they are ready to go). 

Our 10 favorite relationship-building questions for the start of the year include:

  • What three words best describe you?
  • When was a time that you were really proud of yourself?
  • What talents or special abilities do you have?
  • What is something most people love but you dislike?
  • What is a big dream or goal you have for the future?
  • What qualities did you appreciate in your teachers from last year?
  • What do you want me to know about you?
  • What's one skill you have that makes you unique?
  • What’s the hardest thing you've ever done?
  • If you could invent your own holiday, what would it be?

Encourage peer connection

Encourage students to connect with you as well as their new classmates is to ask a question that you feel students would be comfortable sharing with the class, letting them know you will be doing so, and displaying their responses in Ziplet on the screen for discussion. Suggestions for questions to encourage peer connection include:

  • If you could invent your own holiday, what would it be?
  • What’s your superpower?
  • If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you visit?

Start the year strong 

Ziplet teacher Andrew, from Geelong Australia, believes that the best teachers he has worked with have one thing in common: “ the ability to maximise the learning potential of their students in their class by developing positive relationships”. 

Andrew is a strong believer that students develop confidence to experiment and succeed in an environment where they are not restricted by fear of failure. He says using Ziplet in those first few weeks of the school year enabled him to:

  1. Provide a safe place for students to tell him very early in the year how best they learn.
  2. Provide a safe place for students to tell him what classroom environment suits them to learn to their best potential.
  3. Provide a safe place for students to share with him the challenges they have faced in the past so he can quickly adapt his teaching approach and their learning experiences from day one are valued and appreciated.

Some sample questions you might use to support a strong start to school include:

  • Explain what you do when you do not understand a skill or concept you are learning.
  • What's one change you have made recently to become a better learner?
  • It would be awesome if we did this in class…
  • What helps you to get in a good mood when you're feeling down?
  • What makes you feel anxious or stressed
  • What qualities did you appreciate in your teachers from last year?
  • Do you feel confident to voice your opinion in class?

These questions and more are pre-loaded into your Ziplet account. Log in and schedule a few to kick off your new school year building positive student relationships.

Tip: You can also now react to student responses with a quick emoji, to let students know you saw and value their responses. 

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