Students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care! Below is a list of activities designed to cultivate a culture of personalization in your classroom. Please select one or more of these activities to Put it into Practice this week! You will have a wonderful time getting to know your students on a personal level.
- Invite a student or youth to lead or participate in a staff meeting.
- Have a conversation with a student about schools in general or their own education in particular.
- About Me Cards (5 min)
On the first day of school have students fill out an index card with the following information: name, birthday, worst educational experience, best educational experience, first impression of the class, what they hope to learn in your class, and three things they want you to know about them in order to ensure successful collaboration. This allows you to get a quick glimpse of your students as you begin the year.
- Class Meetings (15-60 min)
Have students sit around the room in a circle and begin with recognitions. Recognitions are a time for students to recognize the positive actions of another student (not a time for “shout outs” because then it becomes a popularity contest). The teacher then introduces a topic and writes it on the board, then a student facilitates the conversation and makes sure that the group stays on topic. The topics can range from classroom issues, assignments, projects, content related issues, personal struggles, or world events. The student facilitator rotates every class meeting. The meeting can be as long or short as the teacher desires. The teacher is not involved in the conversation but is an active listener. This allows the teacher to learn about student viewpoints and interests in an informal way. It also permits students to sharpen communication skills and interact with all of their classmates.
- Dear Teacher (5 min)
Have students write a quick letter about anything that is happening in their life about every two weeks. It allows them to share something with you privately and it enables you to get a quick snapshot of where they are at personally. For a class of 25 students, it only takes about 5 minutes to read their little note but the benefits can last a school year!
- Low-High (10-30 min)
Each student briefly states their lowlight of the week and then their highlight of the week. This can be done in advisory or in a regular class. This allows teacher and students to get a snapshot of what is happening in everyone’s life. Students can share advice when it comes to lowlights and they can celebrate the highlights!
- Lunchtime Love (lunch period)
When you feel as if there are certain students that you aren’t making a connection with, invite them to have lunch with you and try to learn more about their interests and struggles. There is something about eating with someone that can help them open up. Try to keep the number to 2-4 students.
- Personalized Planning
Choice is king (or queen) when you are working with teenagers or any students. Whenever possible allow flexibility in projects, assignments, books, problem sets that provide students with an opportunity to incorporate their own passions and interests in their work.
- Running Journal (5 min)
Students journal through prompts related to subject matter or free writes and the teacher responds to students. This allows for one-on-one communication in an informal way.
- Student Interest Surveys
When all else fails, there is nothing like a simple survey to help you find out more about your students! Create your own “personalized” survey to help you establish better relationships with your students.