Sunday, June 16, 2013

Building Rapport Pirate Style

Do you feel like a pirate yet?  In case you missed it, make sure to read about the first two steps in to being a pirate:  PASSION and IMMERSION.  Then come back here to read all about RAPPORT.

"Kids can tell the different between teachers who only seem to care about them when they are sitting in the classroom, and those who see past the 'student' to the unique person who resides inside."

One of my favorite things about Dave's book is that he just doesn't tell you what teaching like a pirate means, he shows what it looks like in his class.  He spends a majority of the chapter walking you through his first three days of class because "nothing is more important to me than creating the proper atmosphere right from the start.  No content standard matters to me until I have established the safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment I need to successfully teach my students."

This chapter really made me think about what I do to show my students that care about them as individuals.  As an instructional coach, one of the points I stress every year is to build rapport with your students.  This chapter had me thinking, "Am I modeling this with the students I teach?"

This year I worked with the third grade students extensively.  I began the year with a few activities that helped me learn more about my students.  Two of my favorites involved fake iPads and skittles.  I wanted to know what my students liked to do, what their personalities were like, and how they worked in groups.

thinking out loud, beginning of the year ipad activity

Each student was given this iPad image with nine blank squares (each square representing an app).  I modeled creating my own iPad apps that showcased some of the things I liked to do, my favorite television shows, and books I liked to read.  Then each student created their own.  After everyone was finished, I had a few volunteers share one or two of their apps.  As they were working, I walked around and had a quiet conversation with each person having them describe at least on the apps they were creating.  I found this great activity in Leanne Baur's Big 3-6 Back to School Activity pack.

The skittles activity came from Fourth and Ten's Back to School FUN activities.  Each student was given a fun size packet of skittles and then I put them into groups.  Each group received the Skittles Sharing pages.  Students had to choose three skittles randomly from the bag and then share based on the matching topic.  I modeled this for students before they did it, so they could learn a bit about myself as well.  As students were sharing with each other, I walked around listening to the conversations taking notes so I would have leads later for the content I would teach.  I sat with each group to listen and join in the conversation.

We did other activities that first week of school.  However, my students said these were their two favorite and they really helped set up the tone for the class for the rest of the year.

Now it is your turn.  What do you do to establish a safe, supportive, and positive classroom environment during the first week of school?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  If you have a blog, don't forget to link up at Third Grade Tidbits or Rowdy in First Grade.


  1. I love the iPad activity. Very cute and effective! :)
    Creating Lifelong Learners

    1. The iPad activity helped get to know my students which led me to different ways to make connections with them during our lessons together.

  2. I love both of those activities! What a great idea to share some ways you built rapport with your students!
    Third Grade Tidbits

    1. Thanks! I love that reading blogs has led me to great ways to connect with my students in more effective ways.

  3. Rapport with students is my favorite way to reach them. I live in the small district I work in and I use it to my advantage. I love running into students and parents around my community. I love when they trick or treat at my house. I love talking about their swimming lessons, soccer games and everything else that makes living in a close knit community different.

    I think I can reach parents at a different level because both my kids went to school here. I can celebrate and commiserate, and occasionally advise. I recently had a colleague say how she would hate having to stop and talk about how students were doing every time she grocery shopped. I laughed and said parents have more to talk about than just how their kid is doing in her class!

    1. There have been times that living so far away from where I work has made it harder to connect with my students and the community I teach in. When I am able to attend community events, my students are so excited to see me. It makes me smile.

  4. Love, love, love the iPad activity. I am going to have to see if I can incorporate for my kinders.


    1. I was thinking the same thing April. My kinders may not know how to read, but they do know how to use an iPad.

      Terri Izatt

    2. I believe just about all Kinders know what an app on mom or dad's phone looks like. Even if they are not readers or writers when they arrive, they can express their likes with illustrations.

  5. Those are fabulous activities!! Thank you for sharing! This chapter really made me self-reflect, too. Seems that I will be doing lots more as the book continues!!


  6. After reading chapter 3 Rapport I know I will definitely be looking for more ways to continue building rapport with my students and every student I encounter. It makes sense that rapport must come first before maximum learning can be made. I love the wordle you created- it is a great visual.

    2 Smart Wenches

  7. I am glad I discovered your blog! Love you I Will be a Writer freebie! Following you- Laura

  8. I like to build rapport through a circle map (thinkingmaps) activity. Kiddos put name in the middle circle and then writes or illustrates things about themselves. The kinder gals did a great project for families to do after attending open house -a scrape book page sharing photos of the student's family, hobbies, likes etc... students then share one or two things when returned. I hang on a bulletin board the first week and then put into a scrapebook for the remainder of the year in the reading area. Another project I do every year is Shel Siverstein's poem/activity...What's in the Sack. Read and share poem with students, send home gift bag (sack) w/poem. Kiddos pick three things to put in the sack that tells us a little bit about that student. We sit in a circle and ask each student what's in the sack? Each child shares 1 or all three things...telling us a bit about why they put those items in their sack. I demonstrate this with my sack before we begin. This way they learn a bit about me too. I get to know my students likes, hobbies, and a bit about family life.

  9. Hi Jana! I found your blog via TBTS. It jumped out as a possible reading blog from the title, and I've been trying to find blogs from other reading specialists. Regardless, I love what you've blogged about. Great stuff!

    After reading your post, I think I need to grab this book! I love finding new and different strategies to incorporate into my repertoire. Thanks for sharing these cute ideas, and in my field as a reading specialist, we definitely need to build rapport with both our kids and parents. It builds motivation and gives the children a reason to work hard.
    Comprehension Connection

  10. Hi! Your blog is so beautiful! I'm loving the color scheme and flowers! The iPad app activity is such a great post! I'm a new blogger and also a 3rd grade teacher. I just joined your blog; please come by, visit, and join mine at Happy blogging!

  11. Hey girl! You're a winner in the TLAP giveaway! Shoot me an email!

    Rowdy in First Grade

  12. Jana,

    Thanks for giving me a shout-out! You made my activity look AMAZING!!! I hope your school year is going great!



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