Each day, Success Academy teachers work hard to get to know their scholars and build a strong remote classroom community that rivals in-person instruction. But we also know that staying connected with peers is often just as important: to lean on, learn from, and help keep each other sane. For new teachers, starting remotely can make it difficult to build relationships. Luckily, some of our teachers have found innovative ways to make that happen despite the circumstances. We asked them to share their secrets for staying connected with their peers during this time — here’s what they had to say.
When I have a free second, I check in via text or Slack to see how my colleagues are doing — and let them know I’m here if they need anything. I find that this simple gesture of letting my peers know I’m present helps us all feel more connected and present during the day.
— Ja’nai Harris, SA Bronx 4
Have a Movie Night!
Download the Netflix Party extension! It lets you watch movies and TV shows with your coworkers. We like to do huge movie nights — it’s a great way to break the ice without too much pressure, find things in common, and get to know your colleagues.
— Amanda Brauchler, SA Bronx 2 MS
Host Virtual Happy Hours — With a Twist
We’ve all had our fair share of virtual happy hours, but our biggest community builder came from adding a game night to them! Once, we downloaded Jackbox Games so we could all chat and play on our phones together. It was an absolute hit and we had lots of laughs!
— Vincent Fredericks, SA Harlem North Central MS
Build Each Other Up
Remote teaching can be challenging, especially if you feel alone. I’ve been known to Slack or text my coworkers positive one-liners to let them know I am thinking of them — and remind them that we’re all in this together. It could be as simple as, “Keep up the good work!” or “I admire your work ethic and how you never give up.” Other times I’ll call out something specific like, “I see your passion for your scholars and I love coming to your class!” or “I love the joy you bring to your classroom and the people around you.” A little bit of encouragement can go a long way.
— Christina Labban, SA Springfield Gardens
Ditch the “All Work” Mindset
We dedicate our time to getting to know our kids while in class, so why not get to know our coworkers, too? Set aside time in your team meetings to talk about your personal lives. It doesn’t have to be for long, but it’s important to remind ourselves we are more than just our positions. Avoiding the “all business” mindset can break up potential monotony and help build relationships.
— Jessica Feuer, SA Cobble Hill
Host Socially-Distanced Picnics
As long as you’re social-distancing and wearing masks, it’s okay to start having those in-person interactions. One of the best low-risk ways to do this is outside, so we have started going to parks or even someone’s backyard to chat. We don’t realize how critical that personal connection can be until we have it again, and it has done wonders for my community.
— Gabrielle Fox, SA Far Rockaway
Learn From Each Other
There are so many different ways to structure your routines, and so many resources to use, especially when you’re surrounded by great teachers! Make sure you reach out to your colleagues with your ideas to discuss strategies for remote learning and teaching. Finding that person or people to bounce ideas off of really helped me get through the tough times. I also hopped into other virtual classrooms to see what other teachers were doing, and I found it so helpful not only for my teaching, but also for building those connections.
— Jean-Pierre (JP) Jacob, SA Hudson Yards MS
Ask for Help
Don’t feel embarrassed to ask your teammates for help when you’re struggling. Chances are, they’ve been in your exact position. For me, asking my teammates to help me with technology has been revolutionary. My peers always responded so graciously and never made me feel dumb if I was having a hard time adjusting to a new tool. It’s so worth it and lets them know they can reach out to you, too!
— Melissa Schulman, SA Harlem 3
Start A Group Chat
There’s nothing like a group chat, right? My peers and I made one, and it’s been such an efficient way for everyone to build strong relationships and connect on similar ideas throughout the day. It almost feels like we’re all chatting in the building together!
— Nathalia Skinner, SA Bergen Beach
My colleagues make my school the magical learning environment that it is; watching them teach is like watching an artist paint a masterpiece. I am so grateful to be surrounded by people whose love for their students shines through every single lesson. Keeping this mindset front and center sets the tone for building caring and appreciative relationships with my peers.
— Lily Kravetz, SA Fort Greene
What’s your tip for remote teaching and learning? Email [email protected].