By Jackie Gerstein
"Most classes, starting with about middle school, begin the school year with reviewing the content to be covered, expectations regarding grades, and other academic information provided by the teacher or instructor. The human or social element is often disregarded.
"What is interesting is that most learners enter the classroom wondering who is in the course. They want to know about the teacher and the people in the class not what material is to be covered. What this says to me as an educator is that it all begins with a social connection – between the educator and the learners, and between the learners themselves.
"Because of this belief, I begin all classes focusing on having the students make connections between themselves and me. I want students to learn about one another in a personal way. I want to learn about my students so my instructional strategies can be more personalized and tailored to their needs and interests. Beginning class with a focus on connections rather than content gives learners the following messages:"