This past year of hybrid and virtual learning due to the pandemic highlighted the gaps in learning and the inequities that we already knew existed. It is apparent, now more than ever, that there needs to be a narrow focus on bridging the divides (e.g., digital) that exist and meeting students where they are in order to promote growth and put less emphasis on standardized testing. This would allow teachers to concentrate on curriculum with greater impact, differentiate their instruction, and utilize effective strategies that they know make a difference for children’s outcomes.

3 Ways to Facilitate Effective Interactions

1. Create a Warm & Supportive Learning Community

In order for children to learn, they need to feel safe and supported. It is important for teachers to create learning environments where children respect one another and have opportunities to connect with their peers. This past year has been challenging for all. As teachers and children re-enter the classroom setting this fall, some for the first time in a year, it will be particularly critical for teachers to make space for children to connect (or re-connect) with their peers, build relationships, and learn (or relearn) how to respectfully interact in face-to-face settings. Creating this supportive environment is the critical first step in supporting children’s development and learning.

Three effective strategies for building a positive learning community:
      • Allow time for children to connect with their peers in a face-to-face setting again and, in some cases, relearn how to have a social conversation that is not through a screen or 6 feet apart.
      • Plan shared activities where children are working toward a common goal. Having a common goal will bond them together.
      • Model respectful behaviors: eye contact, cooperation, sharing

2. Foster a Language-Rich Learning Environment

Modeling language and providing time for children to practice using language is particularly critical in the early years of school as they are developing their language proficiency. In many cases, this past year has meant interrupted, hybrid, or virtual schooling--all of which, despite everyone’s best efforts, is not ideal for practicing and developing language. As a result, it will be particularly important for teachers to increase their students’ exposure to verbal language.

Three effective strategies to foster language use with children:
      • Ask open-ended questions like the following to encourage language practice.
          • “So tell me about what you are working on.”
          • “What’s going on in this picture?’
          • “What do you think of that?”
      • Allow time for children to have unstructured or structured conversations.
      • Introduce children to new words during story time in order to build their vocabulary.

3. Promote Analysis and Reasoning

Encourage children to make connections and think beyond rote memorization of isolated facts. Make the most of your time with children, and design lessons that challenge them to think more abstractly and activate their higher-order thinking. Due to the disruptions in schooling this past year for many children, a narrow focus on promoting analysis and reasoning would be highly beneficial.

Three effective strategies to promote analysis and reasoning with children:
      • Plan activities where children have opportunities to classify and compare. For example, ask students the similarities and differences between lions and tigers
      • Ask children to evaluate a lesson and reflect on how it went, or for older children you could ask them to evaluate themselves and reflect using a rubric to frame the reflection.
      • Ask children to solve problems, particularly ones relevant to them.
          • For example, if the children are experiencing a problem related to sharing markers and other materials, you could ask “How can we solve this problem?” The children can brainstorm this issue together.
          • Another problem might be related to whether they would like to go outside during recess despite inclement weather. If they go outside, how would they stay safe and warm? If they stayed inside, how would they spend their time?

Throughout the course of the day, there are a multitude of opportunities to engage children in effective interactions that further promote their development and learning. For even more strategies and teacher tips, download the resource guide below.

Effective Student-Teacher Interactions
Across the Day

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Interacciones Efectivas Durante el Día de Estudiante a Profesor

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