There are many ways we can jump start the relationship building process early in the school year. Getting to know your students’ interests is crucial! Here are some different ways to do just that!
Who knows your students better than their own parents? Head straight to the source by having parents fill out a survey about their student. You might want to have them complete it during back to school night so that you definitely get them back. Or, send it home the first week or two of school so parents have sometime to really think about their answers. You could offer a small treat to encourage students to return it. 🙂 I like to keep mine all together in my student information binder. I refer back to these throughout the school year!
While parent surveys are great–especially for younger learners who might not be able to answer written questions just yet–going straight to the source is also extremely helpful! Plan to have your students fill out their own interest survey sometime during the first week of school.
Even though we are in the classroom with our kids all day, the best time to learn the most about them is by observing them at recess. I have to admit, sometimes I am so mentally exhausted at recess, I am not paying close attention to what my students are doing. With 100+ kids on the playground, I am usually walking around reminding students about rules or handling peer conflicts. But, last year, I realized that I was missing out on an important opportunity.
So, in order to be intentional about my time at recess, I brought a recording sheet with me so I could jot down observations about my kiddos. I only picked 2-4 kids to focus on each time so I could still balance my basic recess duties.
I find that the information I collect from observing students at recess is really helpful in working with students on social skills and relaying information to parents about their child’s social development.
Even if you don’t do a formal morning meeting, you can still include collaborative conversations to open up discussion and allow for students to share about themselves and their lives. Even though this might seem like a K-2 practice, it can be beneficial in upper elementary and even middle school.Here are some free resources to help get started!
Sometimes, we need to get creative about how we collect information. One of my favorite back to school activities is this “scoot”. If you aren’t familiar with scoot, it is essentially a set of cards with questions on them. You place one at each students’ desk, or around the room. Students use a recording sheet to write their answer to the question. So at one time, each student is answering 1 card (each with a different question). Once students are done, they “scoot” or move to the next card. This continues until they have responded to all cards (typically a class set around 20-24 cards but could be more or less).