Episode 73 3 great ways to get to know your students

Show Notes

Key Point #1: interview

  • Interview each student for 10 min in the first week
  • Question egs
    • Provide examples of when you were successful in learning
    • What can you tell me about previous teachers you have had that you liked?
    • What didn’t you like that they did?
    • Who do you like to work with in this class and why?

Key Point #2: make a video

  • Another great idea is to get your students to make a video answering similar questions.
  • I like to use flipgrid or Seesaw
  • Question egs
    • What do you enjoy doing outside of school?
    • What topics at school do you enjoy?
    • What do you do with your time outside of school? Is there anything you spend a lot of time on, if so what?
    • Is there anything that you consider yourself to be particularly good at? If so what?
    • Is there anything you know a lot about? If so what?
  • The goal is to find their skills and interests

Key Point #3: surveys

  • Use surveys to get to know your students
  • I often use Google forms,but survey monkey or Microsoft forms also work well 
  • Things to ask include:
    • What are you looking forward to learning this year?
    • What are your learning goals for the year and/or this class?
    • What are your goals outside of the classroom?
    • Describe your family. Do you have brothers and sisters? If so how old are they? Do you live with both parents? What do the adults in your family do for money? Does your family speak a language other than English at home? If so what is it?
    • Describe your home life. How many phone and computers do you have? Do you eat together as a family? Do you go on holidays? How far away do you live?
    • What was the best thing you were involved in this week?
    • What was the worst?

Key Point #4: do these often

  • I like to survey students once a week about learning
  • Once a term about life outside of
  • Intermix some of the other questions

Make sure you adapt your teaching based on this information.


Dan: (00:00)
Hi everyone. And welcome to the effective teaching podcast. I’m your host, Dan Jackson. And today is episode 73. And I’m going to be talking with you all about how to get to know your students better at the beginning of the year. And then also, you know, embed this and do it throughout the rest of your year as well, to make sure that you really know, understand and can utilize the knowledge you have of your students in the way that you teach. And I think that’s probably going to be number one said right up front, is that it’s really important, not just for you to know your students for actually allow your knowledge of your students to impact what you do in your classroom. You can’t just know them well and have a good relationship with them. You also want to utilize that in what you’re doing in your classroom, how you go about your process of teaching and learning with your students, utilizing what you know about them.

Dan: (00:48)
So this is the beginning of the year here in New South Wales. We’re starting a new year of education. I know in America, this is probably about halfway through your year, but I’m going to just talk to you about how you should go about doing this. I have three different processes that I love to use, and I tend to intermingle them and use them at different phases. In fact, sometimes I use both of them within less than a week of each other. And now the first one is an interview process. I like to sit down with each of my students in the first week that I have them at my school, and I want to interview them for about 10 minutes when I sit down with them. And I basically want to find out what I can about previous times when they’ve been learning, whether it be at school and things have been going well for them.

Dan: (01:32)
So I might ask them to provide me with some examples of when they were successful in their learning previously a last minute. Tell me about previous teachers that they’ve had and what they’ve liked about them. And maybe even some other ones that they didn’t like or why they didn’t like them to help me know what things not to do and what things to do as I’m working with this student, right from the get-go. I also want to know who they like to work with in the class and then why they liked to work with that person. So they might have friends that they’ll say, I want to work with this person because they’re my friend, but they’re also going to have other people in the class. Do you know what I actually like working, working with this person because they put in the effort they’re quite knowledgeable, those types of things that will help me as well as I go about doing any kind of collaborative processes in my classroom.

Dan: (02:16)
So an interview in the first week I always do, and I generally will do another two probably throughout the year to make sure that I’m really getting to know my students and updating what I know as we go, because students have be constantly changing and growing. And so making sure we’re checking in regularly with them. Another way that I like to use is to ask the students to make me a video that kind of introduces them to me and I’ll give them a bunch of questions to answer. Now there’s two tools that I really like to use for this one is Flipgrid. And the other one is SeeSaw. So take your pick of either of those. If you’re familiar with one of them, just use that one. A SeeSaw is really easy because you can provide them with an example. You can give them all the questions and stuff on there, et cetera.

Dan: (02:57)
And you can do a similar thing on Flipgrid as well. Flipgrid will make it all public though. All the students will be able to see each other’s videos quite straight away once it’s up. Whereas SeeSaw, you can add that level of privacy into those videos. If that is beneficial for you now in these videos, I generally will leave them a bunch of prompts to us that get them to talk about themselves and their learning and their interests and those kinds of things. So I’ll ask them things like, what do they enjoy doing outside of school? What topics at school do they already enjoy? Uh, what do you do with your time outside of school? Is there anything that you spent a lot of time on? And if so, what is that thing? I also want to know if there anything that they would consider themselves to be a expert in or that they think they’re really good at.

Dan: (03:41)
And if so, I want them to tell me what that is. Anything that know a lot about, I want to find out because I want to know already, right? And I do this in my first week as well. These are the two I do right at the beginning. I particularly want to know what they’re interested in, what they expect from me, what things they’re good at, and it can be anything like the kid could come they can be fantastic at karate, or maybe they’re really good at riding horses. Maybe they’re an amazing violinist or different types of skills and knowledge that could exist. Maybe they really love gaming, and they’ve spent a lot of time studying gaming. Uh, that can be a really good thing that you can utilize in your classroom. Get to know that game, find out a few things about it, chat to the kid about it, develop your relationship with them and then use it in learning wherever you can for that student, because it will benefit them as I go about thinking about how to apply to them.

Dan: (04:30)
I also want to start to ask them things like what are their goals? So the goal is really here to find out what their skills and interests are throughout this video. My third strategy that I use is surveys. Now you can use just about anything to do this. You can use Google forms, there’s Survey Monkey. I’m sure Microsoft have a form system as well, and can use any of those things and create a survey for your students to respond to. Now, the types of questions that they ask in my surveys are different to the ones that I put in my videos, and they might ask him to interview. That doesn’t mean they have to be in that way. You could lay them out differently. You can have different things in different areas, or you can just only use videos. So you could only interview them and ask them a whole big range of questions and make it take longer.

Dan: (05:14)
So the questions that I want to ask them are things like, what are they looking forward to this year? What you looking forward to learning, or what are they looking forward to outside of school as well? What are their learning goals for the year as well? So what are their goals for school in general? What are their goals for this class in particular? And then also what are their goals like for outside of school? Are there particular things they’re trying to achieve outside of school as well? That might, yeah. What we’re doing in school and in class might benefit them with, I also want to know if they can tell me a little bit more about their family life. So I want to know, do they have brothers and sisters? If so, how old are they? Do they live with both parents? What do their adults in their family do for money or for income or for a career?

Dan: (05:57)
And that’s looking for people who I can connect topics with that we learn. If there’s someone who’s an expert in that area, that means I can utilize, possibly utilize them in my classroom, or even utilize the child, the student to go and talk to that person and bring information into the classroom to share with others as well. I want to know if they speak any language other than English at home. And if so, what is that? And if it happens to be something that I’m interested in, I might even go and learn a few phrases in that language so that I can say hello or something in that language. Uh, and if it’s something that particularly affects the student’s learning, I also want to know that as well. I want to ask them to describe their home life and that, by that, I mean, what’s kind of, yeah.

Dan: (06:38)
Do they have lots of computers and phones around at home? Do they have access to the internet? Uh, do they eat together as a family? Do they often go on holidays during the school breaks? Um, how far away do they live here? I’ve had students who have lived two to three hours away from the school. I’ve been teaching them and they have to travel that far in the morning and travel that far in the afternoon. And that might affect then what I do with them in my class and what I’m might ask them to do on the train, for example, on the way home, give them some basic work to do there. I also will ask them to things like, um, what was the best thing that they were involved in this week, or what was the worst thing that they did this week? So that I’m getting more information about who they are as a person and what’s happening behind them.

Dan: (07:18)
Again, this is information that I use and I’ll put together. I would normally will, um, bring all this into my class profile and possibly even into individual profiles. If a student particularly is going to need a lot of information, a lot of help, uh, I’m going to create an individual profile for that student. But generally that all goes into my class profile. I have notes about them. I have all this information I’ve gathered from surveys, from videos and from interviewing them so that I really get to know my students. And often that class profile I’ll even put photos of my students in there to make sure that I am learning their names and all that kind of stuff as well. Now I do want to encourage you to do these often, right? I generally would get my students to provide some kind of feedback to me either via video or in a kind of survey type quiz thing where they are giving me feedback about how learning is going for them that week.

Dan: (08:08)
And it could be as simple as, you know, what did I do well this week? What things did I do that annoyed you or stopped you from learning this week? Anything like that? Just to get feedback from them, that will help me as I do stuff. Yeah. With them. I also would do one it’s a term. I’ll start to ask them more questions about life outside schools, through a video or a survey or possibly interview, depending on where we’re at with our year. But I want to know more about what’s going on at home, their family life, et cetera, are the other things that they’re interested in. I’m going to have a look at their data that they’ve already given me if it’s an interview particularly. Cause then when I ask the questions, I can actually ask how’s this going? And how are you going with your horse riding?

Dan: (08:45)
Have you got any competitions coming up soon that they’re going to affect or impact your learning here at school? Now, of course, I want to encourage you to intermix these questions, make sure that they, you don’t have just ask one more informed with one morning videos. I tend to break it up like this, but then particularly at the beginning. But then as we go through the year, I’ll tend to mix it up into whichever survey form I’m going to use, whether it’s video or anything. I’m going to use those and intermixed my questions depending on what particularly I want to find out about my students at that point in time. Now I’m going to say it again. This is really important. It is not for the point of just collecting this information to make friends with them. Okay, you’re their teacher. And the point of collecting all this information is to allow it to impact and change what you’re doing as the teacher.

Dan: (09:31)
So allow it to impact what you’re doing in your classroom. Come up with lessons and activities that link into the things that they’ve got in their background. And when they ask you, like, if you’re giving them options or you can apply this into any context, and they’re like, I don’t know how to apply this to anything. And you go, well, I actually know that you are a really great violinists. Let’s apply it to that. How did you go about your process of learning that? How did you go about anything? And even for motivation, I can use it for motivation. If they’re really good at violin, I can say, did you start well? What did you do to get well? And they worked hard. They got feedback. And that’s what we’re doing in our classroom as well. And you will be successful provided you continue to work and make actions based on the feedback that you get.

Dan: (10:13)
You’ll get the same kind of result. You’ll get this growth in my classroom. As you’re doing this with me. Well, the close up, let me give you just some, a bit of a summary of what we’ve done here. So you want to get to know your students with, by using these types of questions, you want to mix it up with interviews, with videos and surveys. I, to encourage you to make sure that you are adapting your teaching, that adaptation is the critical part of this whole process. And as a challenge for you this week, I want you to make a video of yourself, giving your students this kind of information about you. Maybe you could share things that make that you do outside of school. That you’re really interested in things where you’ve been really successful. Maybe you’ve had things that have gone wrong this week.

Dan: (10:55)
You could share with them or some highlights that you really enjoyed this week. Share those with your students and allow them to get to know you as well. Obviously keep particular personal details out of it. All right. Well, that’s it for this episode, I want to encourage you to make sure you subscribe to the podcast. Make sure you come in and visit teacherspd.net/73. You can get your show notes there. There’s also a copy of the questions that they ask for my videos in my interviews and also in my Google, my surveys and stuff. I’ll give you a copy of those questions and please make sure you come back and join us for our next episode. We’re gonna be talking about the basics of programming and how to make sure you’re doing that really well. I’ll see you then.

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