Getting to Know You...
So, you can do that, but what's more important than getting to know a student's name? Getting to know their story. Let's be real, we're not teachers to teach content, we're teachers to teach STUDENTS, people of the world, our future colleagues even! Let's not forget that... and I'll try reminding you come December... and even March when you are ready for them to leave. (You know you'll miss them!)
Give yourself permission to learn about them, and let them learn about you. It may be a little scary at first. You know, because you can't be vulnerable, and you have to be that teacher who doesn't smile until December, at least some might say so. Or, you have a timeline and sooooo much to teach them with so little time. I will admit, it is much less intimidating to teach content, then it is to learn with your students and about your students. Take the time to ask them questions, and let them ask you questions. The time you spend building those relationships will change the community of your classroom, making learning the content more fun, and more efficient.
At middle school, some students will open up and tell you their life story without a second thought. Others, like myself at that age, are quiet, introverted, and terrified of their classmates and teachers. Consider utilizing a Google Form to give your students an opportunity to tell you about themselves. Some simple questions like, what's your favorite color, subject or food, and perhaps some more personal questions once you break the ice. Maybe ask them about their family, their friends, their hopes, their dreams, or just a simple open ended statement like, "Tell me anything you would like for me to know." and you'd be surprised what you will get. I have learned so much more about my students since beginning to utilize surveys, which I then turned into Google Forms to keep track of more efficiently.
I have modified the questions below from a blog titled "10 Insightful Questions to work into your 1:1 meetings" and I thought you might be able to use these to get to know your students... or your staff too! Maybe I'll try it out on some teachers this year...
- What motivates you (in school)?
- What excites you most (about school)?
- What skills do you get to use the most?
- Do you have any skills that you aren't using often enough?
- Think back to your last three (grades, projects, assessments, days) is there one thing you would do differently next time?
- Is there anything preventing you from doing your best at being a student?
- Is there knowledge areas or skills you'd like to develop to help you be more effective?
- What is one thing I could do to better support you?
- Are you happy at school?
- Are you able to do things you enjoy outside of school to manage stress?