I’m looking for ideas to get to know my students better and interact with them. My head spins with six different groups of students each day. –M., Maryland
You may have heard the idea that students don’t care what you know until they know you care. But in a secondary classroom, trying to connect with 150 students each day seems impossible.
Some students demand our attention: those who raise their hands, have outgoing personalities, or use negative behaviors. But the quiet or contemplative students, students learning English, or those with issues interacting socially may require more of our effort to connect with them. These students and their interests can be overlooked in a busy classroom.
Perhaps you ask students to record data on an index card: name, birthday, nickname, interests/hobbies, extracurriculars, and out-of-school activities such as jobs, community organizations, or volunteer work. (You may have an app to record this information electronically). Use these cards to select a different student each class period. This is not a formal student-of-the-day designation, but a subtle way of ensuring that you interact with all students. For example, greet them at the door, inquire about their activities, call on them for answers or to share thoughts, ask them to be class assistants, or discuss topics with them during seatwork or group work. As you repeat the process, you will get to know each student a little better.
At first their responses might be a “You talkin’ to me?” especially from students not used to teachers’ attention. But most will appreciate your efforts. I was the “quiet” one in class, but I still had something to contribute, and fortunately some of my teachers were able to tap into my thinking.