Whakamine – gather together

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?


6 responses to “Whakamine – gather together

  1. On a slightly different tangent I have been trying to get the mainstream teachers to get to know our students and our department. I am trying to inspire the sports teachers to investigate special needs regional swimming events, and in return giving them resources to help the mainstream lower achieving groups to learn team building and communication skills using our special needs resources like board games. In my case it isn’t enough to get to know the students. Everyone needs to reach out and lend a hand.

    • So true RW,
      Developing the wider support community is vital to students feeling they belong. I hope your efforts are successful as I can imagine it would have a huge positive impact on the students you work with.

  2. Hi ako,
    I think you are right getting to know your kids is really important. At the moment I’m spending time with the kids and also paper blogging! More on that soon…


  3. Hi Stephanie,
    Absolutely! If we don’t know them, we run the risk of making assumptions or judgements – or worse.
    Paper blogging sounds very interesting – looking forward to hearing more!

  4. Hi akoaroha,
    I start my placement next week. One idea I’ve heard of that sounds great, perhaps not so much for placement (depending on the class teacher) but maybe more so for when you have your own class is personalised morning greetings. As each child enters, you do your personalised greeting with them, which may be an air high-five, special handshake, wink, and ensure it has good eye contact. This is a good way to gauge students’ moods. I’ve also created some emotion cards, based mainly on cartoon characters – like your Ants clip – that could be used in circle time or for students individually who seem out-of-character.
    Thanks for sharing during this busy time for you,

    • Thanks Anna,
      What a fun idea, personalised greetings. That is definitely the kind of quirky welcome that you could develop over time as you got to know each student. I really like the idea of emotion cards, particularly with young students, kind of like a visual “what’s on top (on your mind)” activity.
      Best of luck with your placement!

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