Gradient Learning

Bridging the ‘connection gap’ with Along

School may already be underway in your district, or is just about to begin. No matter where you are in the back-to-school season, now is the time to consider how to prioritize teacher-student connections in your classroom this year. 

That’s because when students have a positive relationship with their teachers, they simply show up differently to school and are more likely to have a successful year ahead. This is easier said than done, given the challenges that exist in today’s classrooms. 

How can educators think about building relationships when there are very real time constraints affecting each day, and when there aren’t always resources available to help? These concerns have led to a “connection gap” between teachers and students that requires a solution.

Gradient Learning’s team of educators understand the need for an easy—and free—solution to help foster positive teacher-student relationships. Along, an offering of Gradient Learning, is a first-of-its-kind teacher-student connection builder that provides a space for educators to guide meaningful conversations with their students. It allows teachers and students to see each other as real people and helps students feel known and seen.

“Relationship-building should be the absolute number one priority.”

Along offers access to hundreds of research-informed reflection questions, classroom activities, and educator practices. Educators can start using Along by choosing a reflection question, recording their own answer, and then sharing it with their students. Students will see their teacher’s question in their Along account and can respond in whatever way they feel most comfortable—via text, audio, or video. Their answers go directly back to their teacher, eliminating peer pressure and building critical one-one-one teacher-student connections.

Along was recently named a “Best Tool for Back to School” for 2022 by Common Sense Education, a trusted and independent source that educators look to for advice about technology to use in their classrooms.

Rochester Public Schools in Rochester, Minnesota, is using Along as part of a district-wide focus on building relationships during the 2022-23 school year after piloting it with a number of its educators last year. 

“Relationship-building should be the absolute number one priority for any adult who is going to have students in the classroom,” said Will Ruffin II, Executive Director of Equity and Engagement at Rochester Public Schools. “That’s what’s truly important, not so much the book that’s in front of the student. If their basic needs aren’t met, learning is not going to occur. 

“We knew that we had to find some way to offer a different kind of connection for our students and teachers, and Along filled that void for us.”

Want to learn more about Along? Please visit and sign up today.

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