Master Teacher and Department Chair Kim Ray on building connections with students – POP7

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Kim Ray is Master Teacher and Department Chair at East Union High School in Manteca, California where she teaches ceramics. She has been teaching for over 20 years after trying to work as an independent artist. She still practices her art while being employed full-time. Kim believes teaching is the best job she has ever had and is still excited to go to work every day.

Top tips on how to make your students feel safe and valued as well as engaged in their learning

Kim Ray
Kim Ray

Kim likes to communicate a lot with her students. She touches base with each student every day by working with them individually which allows her to communicate her expectations repeatedly as well as getting to know them really well. She therefore knows about them, their families and how they are doing in other classes. This helps her to build up a strong rapport. It’s also important to talk to parents. Kim is available via email at any time for students or parents.

Kim shares her life experiences appropriately with her students and they do the same with her.

Kim stresses that she is not her students’ friend – she is still in charge but she builds trust in this way.

Another important factor is routine. Kim feels it’s really important that students know what they are going to be doing before they arrive in her classroom. She has taught the expectations of routine explicitly so that the students feel comfortable in class.

Humor is also really important to Kim and she believes it helps to establish the essential rapport she has with her students.

If you can share a little joke with your students it helps them to bond with you better.

All this means that Kim knows her students really well and so she can identify immediately if they are experiencing difficulties – and her relationship with them means she can offer help and support.