Building Relationships

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Learning Goal

Students will learn about others in their class and how to work as a team.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the lessons, students will be able to:
• Learn new facts about their classmates
• Create class norms for teamwork
• Practice completing a task in a team

Learning Summary

This lesson helps students get to know one another. Starting the year with relationship-building activities is a way to start creating inclusive classrooms.

The lesson starts with a five-senses mindfulness activity. A brief introduction sets the stage for students to reflect on their own experiences being part of a team, followed by two separate activities: one focuses on relationship-building and getting to know each other while the second activity focuses on creating team norms and working together as a team. A quick discussion follows each activity, allowing students to voice what they learned and how it feels to work as a team. Finally, students end by reflecting in their journals.

computer icon Online Teaching Tips for Building Relationships

The mindful moment for this lesson is particularly well-suited for students to do at home since each student will be in a different environment. 

See lesson one on Mindfulness for our general teaching recommendations about doing live or recorded social-emotional lessons.

After the mindful moment, have some students recount what they are seeing. 

Early in the class, facilitate a discussion about online class norms around 1) mindfulness; 2) discussions; 3) and behavior in breakout rooms, if you are using them. If you find students need time to be silly on camera, start each class with 1 minutes of silly time – it tends to not be that fun but expends some of the drive and allows you to say to a disruptive student  “what you’re doing would be OK during silly time.” 

Replace the Get-to-Know-You Circle with one of the following, done either whole class or in breakout rooms, which you should only use if you’ve established norms around those:


  • Live online, have students say something about themselves. Then have other students raise their hand if they share that characteristic. Then you call on someone raising their hand and they say something about themselves. Keep tabs on whom you have called to give everyone a chance. 
  • Two truths and a lie (be sure to model this twice and have students write down their statements before you have them go).
  • Have students bring something to the camera that is important to them.
  • Never-have-I-ever can work well online (see lesson plan) though it’s likely that you’ll have to come up with all the statements. However, using the chat can work here as well as having students hold up a sign with their statement.
  • For recorded lessons, have students interview someone in their house and find out something new about that person.

Have students email you a seven-word autobiography. Create a document for the whole class and then share it out to all the students.

CASEL Competencies

Relationship skills: The abilities to establish and maintain healthy and supportive relationships and to effectively navigate settings with diverse individuals and groups. This includes the capacities to communicate clearly, listen actively, cooperate, work collaboratively to problem solve and negotiate conflict constructively, navigate settings with differing social and cultural demands and opportunities, provide leadership, and seek or offer help when needed.