Teacher and Student Interactions

Ms.Gonzalez interacts with her students by prioritizing their  mental health and offering them to purchase a basketball game with PBIS points.

Camilla S. and Kaitlyn M.

Ms.Gonzalez interacts with her students by prioritizing their mental health and offering them to purchase a basketball game with PBIS points.

Declynn G., Camilla S., and Kaitlyn M.

Twelve months ago, students were sitting at home, fixated on screens. Teachers and peers were reduced to 2-inch Zoom boxes. Fast forward to the 2021 school year, as students have moved down the hallways into classrooms and onto the hardcourts. Upon taking an even closer look, you might find students engaged in a basketball game with their teacher. 

“I have a lot of athletes in my room and a lot of those athletes love to play basketball. I used to play basketball when I was in high school, and I thought it would be fun for them to be able to challenge me as a teacher,” said Day Creek teacher, Ms. Gonzales. 

Ms. Gonzales, a math and science teacher at Day Creek Intermediate, opened a  personalized class PBIS store where students can use points earned from participation and good behavior to purchase items of their choosing. One of Ms. Gonzales’ options is a basketball game, available for 70 PBIS points. She created her store with the intent to interact with her students while also hoping to affect their mental health. 

“I wanted to motivate my students to be more engaged in the classroom and give them something to be excited for when they come in,” Ms. Gonzales said.

Ms. Gonzales’ students appreciate the connection she has built with them and the motivation she offers. 

“She’s very good with interaction and communicating with us. Ms. Gonzales likes to make sure that not just one student is okay, or not just the students that are doing well are okay, or not just the students who are doing bad are okay. She likes to make sure everybody is living up to their fullest potential,” said Abby B. 

DCIS’s staff value Ms. Gonzales’ for her initiative in creating interactions that bring balance to the classroom. 

“There are times to be serious: to learn the new material and take a serious stance in the classroom with teachers and with our students. But [it’s just as] important to make time to have some fun and build that relationship and make sure that students are comfortable. Because at the end of the day teachers are people too,” said Day Creek counselor, Ms. Gaines. 

By interacting with her students, Ms. Gonzales is able to connect with them by demonstrating that she cares. In doing so, everyone benefits from the rapport in the classroom.

“I believe that showing students that I care lets them know that I am someone that is here for them and can help them. I truly care about them. If a student can recognize that I care for them and am here for them, then they’ll do what they need to do,” said Ms. Gonzales.

Ms. Gonzales makes sure her students are doing well and able to perform their best in school. She also does check-ins on Google Forms or verbally where she asks how her students are doing.

“I’ll make my own Google Forms and have them fill it out, or we’ll just have conversations about how they feel and what they’re doing,” Ms. Gonzales said.

Making mental health a priority and interacting positively with students go hand in hand. Through simple but intentional engagement, teachers are caring for a student’s mental health. 

“It’s a huge priority in the classroom because if they’re mentally well then they’ll do well in the room. If they are not mentally well or they have other mental health issues, it can affect their ability to perform in the classroom and just be present overall during lessons,” said Ms. Gonzales. 

The administration agrees that teacher interaction is advantageous for students who’ve endured so much these past two years. 

“It’s just showing that they care. I feel like a lot of us want to know like you care. When you know an adult cares about you, it always makes a difference,” said Mrs.Vander Laan. 

Ms. Gonzales’ students recognize her intent and value how she works to create an environment that feels more like a team.
“I think it’s fun. I feel like she overall doesn’t want to make us feel like we’re these students and she’s our boss. She wants to make us very much feel like we can talk to her, and we can go to her. She wants to make us feel like we’re all together,” said Abby B.