Digital Teaching and Learning

January 27, 2021

How can I effectively build relationships with students within a digital teaching and learning environment?

People learn better when they have a positive relationship with the person providing instruction.

The characteristics of a high quality teacher-student relationship include:

  • Teacher empathy
  • Unconditional positive regard
  • Genuineness
  • Nondirectivity
  • Encouragement of critical thinking

Source: Fisher, Frey, and Hattie (2021) Distance learning playbook.

Application of this strategy:

Teacher Empathy

Leigh Moran, middle school teacher, shares a strategy for building a positive virtual classroom environment.

Using Video Backgrounds to Spark the Fun AND the Brain

Positive regard

Marcy Starbuck, middle school teacher, shares an optimistic, positive demeanor in her message to students about learning about themselves, the world, and each other.

Building Relationships at a Distance: Establishing Positive Regard


Amanda Jourdan, middle school teacher, establishes an optimistic classroom environment every day. The notion of ‘struggle’ becomes the routine of a positive and fun activity.

How to make struggle positive


Beth White, high school teacher, discusses how she uses break out rooms to allow students choice and shared decision-making in meeting content goals.

Student Choice for Learning: Varied Purpose Breakout Rooms

Encouragement of Critical Thinking

Shannon O'Connor, an elementary teacher, discusses how to build choice and relevance into assignments.

Digital Collaborative Writing with itslearning Group Assignment

Digital Teaching and Learning Professional Development Module Updates

Module 5 of the Digital Teaching and Learning course will be live today, Wednesday, January 27, 2021. Module 5 focuses on the technology set up of your classroom for in-person and hybrid teaching and learning. Updates have been made to include the use of webcams.

On Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Module 6 of the Digital Teaching and Learning course will be available. Module 6 focuses on digital teaching and learning to support essential skills for engagement and hybrid learning.

Tools For All

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Would you like more tools to support your students, tools that work with your current instruction? The Assistive Technology team is very excited to announce technology tools that help ALL students access digital school materials based on their individual needs and preferences. These include the TextHelp family of extensions: Read&Write, Screenshot Reader, PDF Reader and EquatlO Math Spaces. Students and staff have access to these tools on their own devices. In preparation for the release of these tools to students and families in early February, an asynchronous course, “Tools for ALL,” is now available on the Its Learning homepage for all staff. Staff may also register for additional synchronous support as needed with this link: Tools for All Synchronous PD Sign-up. Questions regarding this information should be directed to
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Office Hours

Office hours will be held 3:00 to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday via this Teams link. Access the full schedule on this calendar.

Access previous issues of the Digital Teaching and Learning newsletter.


Any questions related to the information in this newsletter may be directed to