Making Positive Connections with
Students BEFORE It's Too Late Nancy
Here you are --- the start of a new year with new students, possibly
a new classroom or new text books or maybe even a new school. You need
to make a connection with someone, so make it a commitment to get to
know your students. I love meeting and greeting my students at the door.
I take them by surprise and shake their hand and welcome them to class.
I find my smile and in a sincere way let them know that I'm glad that
they are in my class for the year or semester. I try to learn their names
as soon as possible.
Once we're together inside the walls
of the classroom, I have them fill out their millionth
(at least it seems that way for high school students) information
card. I ask for important information like everyone else.
But what might be different from other information cards
is that I ask them to "write something on the back
of the card that is special about you." I make them
write something because I let them know that everyone has
something special and some students have never been asked
this. Many times they will write it but wouldn't tell anyone
else. I don't make them "expose themselves in front
of the class," but I may look through the cards and
say we have special people who like to …., who are
doing,…., and who are…… without embarrassing
them by reading names. Maybe they like to do something
that most students that age don't do. Here are some examples.
I had a student who was in my freshman algebra class that
was a nationally ranked billiards player. I don't think
I would have heard about this without the cards. She didn't
talk much and was so busy playing at tournaments on the
weekends that others didn't know her very well either.
This year I have a championship horseback rider. Another
student was working on a quilt for a homeless person. Some
of my students had wonderful collections at home that they
could tell you all about. And once in a while I receive
a card that said, "there is nothing special about
me." My heart hurts, but I can identify that student
early and begin to help that student feel special and important
in my class. Nothing makes a person feel more alone or
sad than to be alone in a classroom of unfamiliar people.
If students know that you care, it makes
management a little easier and "special" information
cards are a good way to connect with your students early!
It gives you all sorts of information to use in examples
that you create such as word problems in my math classes.
I can change the subject matter to keep the connections
and their interests alive creating a learning community
right in the classroom.
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