Students and teachers across the world are beginning a new year. How do I know? My Facebook feed is inundated with Back-to-School pics- and I love it! Here are a few from my feed over the years. Don’t tell my kids!
When our kids would tell us about their first few days of school, it was clear how the year was going to go. The teachers who spent time getting to know their students by building relationships and building routines were more likely to be the teachers that helped our kids feel cared for and feel confident.
It doesn’t need to take a lot of time to begin on the right foot. It can be as simple as standing at the classroom door, shaking each student’s hand, looking them in the eyes, making a quick introduction, and welcoming them to class. The old don’t-smile-until-Christmas advice has never been good for anyone.
Who are your students?
Over the first few weeks of school, the connection you make with students will impact the rest of the year. First impressions work both ways. Tell them about yourself as a student and a learner when you were their age. Better yet, show them a picture of YOU at their age. Here I am at different stages of awkwardness.
Let them know what your dreams were for your future. Where you thought you’d be. How you got where you are now.
Have a laugh, reminisce, then focus on them.
As much as it is a great ice-breaker for them to get to know each other, I recommend that you also get their info on paper (or digitally). Maybe through a discussion post or journal entry on your LMS, or a Google Form, or even a shared Google Doc. This may be the most important data you collect all year.
Focus your questions on these 3 topics (including a few examples):
Your students as people…
- What is their background?
- Where is home (especially important to those who are international)?
- How would their family and friends describe them?
- What do they need you to know about them?
Your students as learners…
- What type of teacher do they respect?
- How do they learn best?
- How do they ask for help when they need it?
Your students as the future…
- What are they passionate about?
- What is happening now in their world that excites them?
- What is happening now in their world that worries them?
Finally, let’s get back to you.
How are You Modeling Lifelong Learning?
As we get to know our students and they get to know us, we need to think about how we are modeling learning as learners ourselves. We need to build our own learning networks and share, with students, what we are learning as well as how we are using that learning. If we expect students to be learners, we must be learners.
Facebook and Twitter have made this easy. If you teach science and use the NGSS, then there’s a Facebook page for you. If you teach PE, then there are pages for you. If you use Seesaw, then there are pages for you. Honestly, if you teach it, someone is posting about it!
Here is a Google Site that I made last year with links to pages that are worth adding to your learning network. Leave me a comment if you have others that I should add.
My thoughts and energy are with you all this year. It’s going to be GREAT!