How to Get to Know Your Students Quickly

rp_thumbs_up_illustration1.jpgIn Australia we have started school again for the year.  Because I teach in a senior college (years 10-12), we start the year a bit differently.  We had an orientation day last Thursday and classes started today.  I met all of my classes, and it looks like it will be an interesting year!  In one class I have 4 students who have been expelled from the behaviour unit and another guy out on parole.

If you have been to any of my teacher training sessions you will know that I am a believer in being able to build relationships fast.  To facilitate that this year I started with a simple exercise that allowed me to get to know the students and their background and gave them the opportunity to open their hearts to me a little.  Below are some of the questions I asked…feel free to improve them and make them age appropriate to your class.

  1. Name
  2. Age
  3. Where were you born?
  4. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
  5. Where do you fit in the family structure i.e. oldest child etc?
  6. What was the last school you attended?
  7. How long ago was that?
  8. How many times have you moved house in the last 5 years?
  9. What are your hobbies?
  10. What would you like to achieve by the end of the year?

These questions formed the basis for my discussion and I just followedany interesting remarks that were made – such as I have 5 full blood brothers, 3 full blood sisters, 2 half blood sisters and 4 step sisters; which led to a discussion of what Christmas looked like in that household!

At the end of the day it doesn’t matter how you get to know your students.  What does matter is that you remember that you only have ONE chance at making a first time impression and that your students have already formed an opinion of you in the first five minutes, so whatever you do don’t waste your first lesson!

What have you found to be a great way of building relationships with your students?

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