How are you? No, really. How are you?

This week's update is a little different than usual.

I'd like to share one way I build relationships with students. Inspired by my students, read on for an essential question you must ask your students.

It's one small step for us, one giant leap for supporting learning.


How are you? No, really. How are you doing?


How often do you have this conversation with a student?

You: "Nice to see you! How are you?"
Student: "I'm okay. How are you?"
You: "I'm good. See you later!"

Woosh! There goes a missed opportunity. Do this instead: Ask twice.

You: "Nice to see you! How are you?"
Student: "I'm okay. How are you?"
You: "I'm good. But really. How are you doing?"

That's it: Just ask "how are you?" a second time. Take a moment, pause, make eye contact, and ask this essential question. It's simple, but powerful.

There might be an awkward silence. Smile in return. Whether a student shares a little more or doesn't, you asked. You see them. You care.

You can even do this via email! Rather than beginning an email with "how are you?" as a greeting, end your email with "how are you?"

A colleague sent me an email like this long ago and it really made an impression on me. A genuine question! In an email! And I spent just one extra minute sharing how I was doing. How often do we do that? Not often enough.

As teachers, let's model this for our students. Ask twice. By the end of the semester or school year, your students will pause and ask you, too.

So, how are you? Comment below and let me know!


Savor the first and last minutes of class


Want more tips for building rapport with students? We highly recommend Professor James Lang's series in the Chronicle of Higher Education on how to make the most of:

We love his book, Small Teaching. It's full of practical teaching strategies and the science behind them.

For example, combine retrieval, spacing, feedback, and more with quick and easy Connection Notebooks