Thursday, 7 November 2013

Getting to know your students

Term 4 is rapidly drawing to a conclusion and nestled amongst all the testing and report writing is the realisation that I have to be thinking about next year. Our year group has a deadline of week 6 for their reports to management (I'm making great progress!) but in various teams we're meeting to decide on important aspects of next year. As a BT I just want to get this one finished, but I'm so excited about 2014 and continuing my own learning.

All the inputs I use to get to know a student.
My latest wonderings have surrounded getting to know my kids, how I might best do this, surprise at the things I'm learning about them still and the desire to rewind so I could use these facts to better teach them.

Why have I been thinking about this?

  1. A week or so ago we organised our classes for next year (I'll explain this process shortly) and hence I'm curious about my next bunch. 
  2. This week I've seen one of my more reluctant kids wow me with his enthusiasm & engagement. 
  3. I have been surprised by the ongoing release of details from students about their lives. 
  4. Ongoing discussion about my kids going to other classes and the kids coming towards mine.
At the start of the year we hand out an introductory report, about week 5, it includes a section for parents to help us get to know their kids. Around the same time our school hosts an event for parents to meet the teacher. All of this is designed to help build that relationship with the whanau and learn more about the child.
The teacher involvement in class allocation is intriguing, everyone has their views based on teaching styles, curriculum strengths/weaknesses, passions, personality etc. Clearly there is a need to take each teachers opinions onboard when considering your approach to teaching a child the next year but without a doubt, I am different to you (whoever you are). Which brings me to the point that I still need to get to know each child based on my 'Almost Clean Slate' approach.

I do all sorts of things to get to know my kids. Lots of different activities, plenty of time invested, a little bit of myself is shared and I listen. But it's way too early to think I am doing this vital part of our role to the level that it deserves. I believe I'm doing a good job I just want to do better and I know that there is no replacement for time invested in these relationships.

I'm hatching a plan that involves several strategies, as follows:
  • A short adventure learning activity early in term 1.
  • Google form on the class blog over the holidays for parents & students.
  • A family tree activity for class display.
  • Multiple intelligences type activity.
I love sharing my passions with my students, I believe I'm easy to get along with and relatively personable. But that doesn't make it easy to get to know students, not the important bits that assists you when teaching them anyway! Yet it's one of the most crucial aspects of being a teacher. 

Your views, suggestions (especially for professional reading) or comments for getting to know your class are all valued, here or through twitter. 

I'm off to learn more about my kids.

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