A new year always presents itself with challenges. One of the biggest struggles faced by teachers can be getting to know their students. Learning names is one thing; but truly getting to know your students is another.
Here are four ways to get to know your students.
1. Interest Surveys
Interest surveys can come in all shapes and sizes. They can be about a student as a whole, or pertain to a particular subject area. I’ve used both.
When creating a survey to learn about my students, I ask questions about their families, hobbies, and favorite memories. When focusing on a content area, I ask specific questions about upcoming units as well as my students’ comfort in the subject. I ask them to tell me about a memorable lesson they remember from the subject and a lesson or topic they disliked.
Administering theses types of surveys early in the school year equips me with valuable information for the rest of the year. I often keep them and give my students a similar survey at the end of the year. I return their original surveys to let them compare their answers. It’s always a fun activity!
2. Student Interviews
Student interviews can be done in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas:
- Have students pair up or meet in groups and ask each other a standard list of “get to know you” questions.
- Host a talk show in your classroom where you ask questions to panels of students.
- Send home a questionnaire with students to be completed with their parents.
Whatever the format you select, the goal is the same: to use thought-provoking questions to get to know your students. Some students are shy and don’t like to share. Participating in an interview is a fresh approach to learning about your students.
3. Rhyme Time
Sometimes, it’s hard just to put names to faces. Creating rhymes with students is a great way for you to get to know your students and for them to get to know each other.
The concept is easy. Tell the class something about yourself using your name and a rhyme. Ten years later, I still remember that “Jordan Hughes had new shoes,” on the first day of school. My students illustrate their rhymes and we hang them in the room. They become fun ways for students to get to know each other’s names.
4. Goal Setting
Goal setting can be done on many levels. Goals can be simple or complex. I like to find time in those first few days of school to sit down with each student and create a goal for the first part of the year.
To help students who might be stumped, I bring in examples of the previous year’s student goals, such: as read four novels by Thanksgiving, improve how I write an introduction, and learn to multiply fractions.
Meeting with each student early-on and working to set specific goals is invaluable. The student learns that his/her teacher cares enough to take time on those first few days to meet with him/her. The student is forced to consider an area to work on. At the same time, the teacher gets to have a one-on-one conversation and learn this student’s concerns.
Whatever approach you take, creating relationships with your students in the beginning of the school year is important. Developing mutual respect will result in a more fruitful classroom. Get to know your students…and learn more than just their names!
Sharing is Caring!
What strategies work for you in your classroom?