Long story short: knowing classmates and developing strong interpersonal connections can support academic success, particularly during a school year when many are transitioning between remote, hybrid, and in-person schooling.
Imagine you’re in Spanish or Biology class. You accidentally zone out when the teacher gives out homework instructions. In your homework portal, the instructions seem frustratingly vague. How can you figure out what you’re supposed to do to receive full credit? In situations like these, it can be crucial to have 1-3 acquaintances in the class that you can text, email, or call for clarification.
Another hypothetical scenario: you’ve been getting only partial credit on your History notes for the past several weeks. You can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong, and your teacher hasn’t had a chance to meet with you to clarify the expectations. In this situation, too, it can be helpful to have at least one classmate that can help you identify and fix your mistake.
Having connections in each class does not mean you have to spontaneously make a bunch of best friends. It does mean being open to giving and receiving support. Below, we’ve listed some concrete ways you can respectfully and smoothly create connections in each of your classes.
1. Use Group Work as an Opportunity
- In many classes, teachers assign group work for presentations, labs, and assignments. If you don’t already know anybody in your class, group assignments can be a great way to meet your classmates. Toward the end of a group work session, politely ask if your group work partner(s) are interested in exchanging contact information so that you can each reach out with questions whenever you fall behind.
- Sample conversation starter (for towards the end of a group assignment): “Hey everybody, before you go — I wanted to see if any of you would be interested in exchanging contact info? Assignments in this class can be a little confusing, and it might be helpful for us to be able to reach out and ask for clarification on tricky assignments.”
2. Leverage Student-Teacher Relationships
- Your teachers can be a useful resource when it comes to creating community in your classes. If you are feeling lost/overwhelmed in your class, try emailing your teacher to share your concerns, or better yet, meet them during office hours. You can respectfully ask if there’s a way students can easily contact one another by, for example:
- Setting up a student-run Slack channel for the class
- Posting an easily accessible contact list for students who want to participate
- Having the teacher divide the class into “support groups”
3. Reach Out to the Activities Center
- To create connections and build a sense of community outside of classes, try reaching out to your school’s Clubs/Activities Center. This will allow you to:
- 1) meet students who share your interests, or
- 2) propose your own club idea (eg. D&D Club, Anime Club, Beach Cleanup Club) and ask the Activities Center to circulate your club’s information to interested students.
- Note: Joining a subject-specific club, such as the Math Club, can help you make connections in subjects for which you might need guidance and collaboration.
We’d love to hear how you’ve met new classmates and/or created a sense of connection during this school year. Let us know!