This week has been really exciting. I’ve been off experiencing the first few weeks of the school year with a room of 7 and 8 year olds. I think the most important piece of learning has been how to ensure your students feel happy, welcome and safe when they get to school each day. Half this success is getting to know and appreciate each student as a unique individual, and the other half is helping each student become part of a supportive learning team.
There are formal and informal ways of getting to know your students.
Formally, you may have a variety of activities organised so students can share personal aspects of their lives, such as all-about-me posters, books or games; as well as a variety of assessment strategies so you can ascertain student’s skills and knowledge in order to tailor your teaching.
Informally, there is before school conversation with students, and contact with parents, which helps inform you of student out-of-school interests and past-times, activities and commitments.
The team-building grows alongside the get-to-know-you strategies. Students need to get to know each other and learn to learn alongside and with each other, through a range of independent, paired and shared activities. One of the best I saw this week was the improvised band.
In groups of 4 or 5, students selected from a pile of ‘junk’. The junk was recycled boxes, bags, plastic bottles, cans and paper. Over the next 20 minutes, the groups developed a soundscape of thunder and rain which they then performed in front of the other groups. The results were varied, interesting and very, very loud. The skills of sharing ideas, negotiation and thinking “we” instead of “me” are setting up these students as a learning community which values collaboration and communication.
What activities are you using to get to know your students and/or nurture a team?