Creating Classroom Community Virtually! Part 2: “Say their name, say their name…”


If you didn’t sing the title of this blog I am sad…. Maybe I only feel that way because it is 10:30 at night and I am so past the point of exhaustion that I seem to be singing everything in my head… or out loud… lol…

Ok… but for real…. welcome to part 2 of my series on Building Classroom Community ONLINE! 🙂 YAY!

This one is short and sweet (ok maybe not short but SUPER simple) and REALLY SUPER IMPORTANT. When you think about your asynchronous classes vs. synchronous classes,  one is bound to feel easier than the other for you. It really varies from teacher to teacher, however, one thing is absolutely vitally important in BOTH… SAY THEIR NAMES.

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A note on names: if you’re not sure how to pronounce a name, like if you’re not 100% you know how someone’s  name is pronounced, ASK that child, (yes, the child themself) and name WHY it is so important to you. You want to honor them and make sure you’re saying their name correctly. 

In synchronous “LIVE” classes taught through Zoom/Google Meets/ Microsoft Teams, it may feel a little “easier” but it is equally important for your asynchronous lessons, especially if you’re a teacher who is only teaching synchronous lessons one time per week.

Synchronous classes:

  • The first time my students hear their names is when they’re coming into the classroom. (We are still doing lots of “culture” building at my school, and not really starting any sort of content til week 3 so these lessons are all in English but you can apply them to any virtual classroom) I greet students as I admit them to the classroom. Since I use ZOOM for my Live classes, I give students a minute to join the audio, and then I say “HEY Corey!” “Good morning Journee!” “Happy to see you Charles!” “Hola, Ma’Lani!” “Buenos d­ías, Valeria” “Hey Michael! Good morning!” etc.
    • As I do this I am physically moving my face around and my eyes
    • I am waving to students
    • I have a HUGE smile
  • Next, I use their names after I give an instruction to narrate the AWESOME behaviors and actions I am seeing following that instruction. There is such power in narration in the physical classroom and I see the same power come through virtually!
    • For example: “I see Luiz, Brent, Cyndey, Alaizjah, and Alonzo writing! They look super excited about the prompt” “I notice 80% of the class is already typing in the chat, great work Tony, excellent Pierre, Chloe, super focus!”
  • Throughout class I remark on their “reactions” and participation, because it promotes more positive interactions/engagement from other students
    • “I knew right away that Kai was on the same page with me when it came to cooking because THIS was the face that he made (imitate facial expression) we may love to eat but we don’t like to cook!”
    • “WOAH! I can see that George is SUPER excited about getting started! He is showing me with his facial expressions AND his body language!”
    • “I noticed that Landyn and Jair seem way more energized and awake after that last brain break, Thanks for being great leaders in what it looks like to get focused again when we come back to class!”
  • When we are finishing class, I make sure to say goodbye to kids as they’re leaving, I wave, I smile and I THANK them for coming to class and participating….
    • It is also awesome to mention one specific contribution they made to make class super awesome that day (if possible! recognizing they may leave before hearing it but their friend might and pass it on!)

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Asynchronous classes:

  • I love to show kids that I am “reading” the asynchronous lessons that they’re turning in. One way I can do this is record videos to talk about what I am learning from them… for example:
    • “Yesterday I learned that 80% of you didn’t know that Will Smith spoke Spanish! Isn’t that cool!? Corey, TJ, Tahj, and Cade all said they love Will Smith and follow him and didn’t even know that!”
    • “Almost all of our class would choose bacon as their favorite breakfast food but we have some kids who like to break the mold and be different, Kalani, Noah, and Naeem, are for pancakes all the way”
  • Recall or touch on “previously established” relationships and culture if you’ve taught the kids in previous years:
    • “Let’s stand up and do a Brain Break! I’ll wait… I’ll still wait… yes, I know we aren’t live, but I still have to wait because I know that Jordyn and Nevaeh are still sitting down and you can’t do a Brain Break sitting down!” (Obviously I don’t know if these girls are sitting down, let alone watching the lesson, but if I’ve had these kids before and they know each other then they know how true and funny these statements are! They LOVE them! I’ve even had these girls comment on how funny it is and how it is like I can REALLY see them)
    • “y’all… I know I am not quite as good at art as Michael, Josie, or Zachary, but I can still try right?!?!” (as I am modeling drawing the story as we listen in TL…)

Sooooo…. Say their name… LOUD AND PROUD and OFTEN!

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because after all…

“the sweetest sound to a person, is the sound of their own name” – Dale Carnegie

That’s all for now folx!

I am going to call it a night!

MUCH LOVE, and until next time,

Stay happy, stay safe, stay well, stay SANE!


La Maestra Loca

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A real life selfie of me right now!


  1. This is very important! Thank you for the reminders about being so explicit when you narrate positive classroom events. I am loving this! My first day of synchronous online teaching is Monday. I am looking forward to it!! I, too, am starting content in Week 3 and I think that is so important! Love you, hermana!

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