The English Classroom

A HELPFUL GUIDE FOR PRESERVICE AND GRADUATE TEACHERS

Getting to Know Your Students

They have heard it all before. Tell me your favourite colour. What is you favourite movie? What do you like to do on the weekend? Sometimes you will get an insightful answer. Sometimes you will get the impression that your students do nothing during their free time. The variety of answers can be very broad.

While you might be meeting your students for the first time, they are also meeting a range of other teachers who are likely to be asking similar ‘get to know you’ questions. For you it is valuable. For them it can be very repetitive – especially if they have completed the same activity across three or four classes in the same day.

This is why we as teachers need to develop a broad toolkit. Our toolkit hold all of our little tips and tricks that we acquire along the way. They include behaviour management techniques, how to calm a student when they are anxious and a range of other ways that we interact with students – and that is all before we even get to teaching the child.

When you meet them for the first time, you should aim to have genuine and authentic conversations with students. This is essential to building an honest and strong relationship. They need to see that not only do you care about their learning, but you care about who they are as people. Your dialogue shouldn’t come across as being scripted, but with the aim of creating an honest connection with them as young adults.

So how do we do this?

While the classic get the know you questions are effective, there are other ways for you to learn about your students. One technique that I like to use is presenting a range of images from a specific category, for example animals. Choose a wide range from this category. From there, ask your new students “if you were one of the following, which would you be and why?” The purpose here is to strike up an authentic conversation and create some buzz in the classroom. It is something different and unique. It will send out from other teachers.


You can tally the examples on the board. It looks like this class is made up of mostly lions and turtles. This highlights so much about their personality and is something tangible that you can stick with throughout the entire year/trimester/semester. Is necessary to know who they would be? Not really, but it provide a fresh conversation and something that they will remember throughout their day. Will they remember be asked what their favourite movie is? Maybe. But being asked what type of table or chair they are will definitely stick in their mind. It requires some abstract thinking and creativity to acquire an answer. Try it out and see what discussion you can generate with your classroom.



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