• Amba Brown

3 ways high school students can better their relationship-building skills through remote learning

In 2020, we are more connected than ever before through online chats, video calls, social media channels, and more. Yet, in the midst of a global pandemic, we are physically disconnected. Talking through Zoom or messenger doesn’t provide the same level of interaction and emotion as a face-to-face conversation. There’s a level of personalization that gets lost behind a screen.

There are ways, though, that high school students, especially college-bound ones, can work to improve their relationship skills through remote learning. Opening up online and sharing your personality will strengthen your virtual relationships.

Talk through emotions

You know what’s hard right now? Almost everything! And nearly everyone in the world is dealing with the same issues. An easy way to relate and improve relationships is to recognize where we are in this moment together, and share that feeling with others.

It’s important to take a “temperature check” at the start of each day so that we have a better understanding and empathy for those with whom we interact. Whether speaking with friends, classmates, or teachers, it’s quick and easy to ask, “Smile or frown? Sunshine or clouds? Roses or Thorns?”

It may feel daunting to open up your emotions to others, but there are ways to do it that are informal and fun. Emojis offer a great way to share how you feel. At the start of a class, discussion, study group, or hangout, simply ask everyone to share the emoji that best fits their mood at the time. When we can’t read body language or sense emotions in a person, this is a great routine that will help you understand the feelings of others joining the conversation. This is especially useful for difficult classes, where many students, even those at the highest academic level, will feel isolated in a remote environment.

Create several touchpoints

Video chats have become the answer for everything we’re missing in this pandemic. But they don’t adequately replace good relationships. In fact, video chats cause lags in conversations, miss nonverbal cues, and become exhausting after staring at faces online for too long.

Don’t limit your interaction with others to a video chat. Find meaningful ways outside of that one method to connect with others. It might take some effort, but writing a letter or talking on the phone with friends, classmates, mentors, and teachers will show them how much you care about them.

Sending a birthday card when you can’t celebrate in person or writing a thank you note to a teacher for the time they’ve dedicated to helping you succeed shows that person you dedicated time and thought to your communication, and it’s important.

Phone calls, collaborating in fun online games like solitaire, or less formal video chats also illustrate that this person is important to you, so you are putting effort into maintaining your relationship.

Develop communities

We are, by nature, social beings. We develop social circles at school, work, home, and with our friends. These groups form for different reasons—some are for fun, others to complete a task.

In this remote space, we also need communities and support systems. Determine what those communities should look like and what the right space is to make those connections.

For example, your social circle might be best through interactive social media and online game forums. Make an effort to do things as a group and not solo. Find ways to chat while you play or create together. Your school group might benefit from online platforms like Google+, Brainly, or Study Blue that connect you with students, tools, and resources to discuss and share information on school topics.

Maintaining communication with these groups in the right space will improve your relationships and productivity.

Conclusion

At a time when we can’t physically be together, most people are fortunate to have loads of technology at their fingertips to connect with others. By using this remote space effectively, and also knowing when it’s time to take a break from these devices, you can find the right place to communicate with friends, classmates, and teachers.

Even when you can’t meet face-to-face, you can use the tools you have to check in with people, show them they are important to you, and meet them in a space that enhances your communication. There are ways to build better relationships through remote learning.


~ Written by JASON PATEL, Former Career Ambassador at the George Washington University and Founder, Transizion.