How do you get to know your students during the first few weeks of school?

Yesterday, we had a very timely #formativechat on Twitter about starting off the school year on the right foot! Our first question focused on what many consider the first “step”: How do you get to know your students during the first few weeks of school?

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We’d love to continue the conversation here and encourage you all to share your strategies! Let’s help each other hit the ground running!

@informed_members @Certified_Educators

I create a google slide for each class period. Then, I have the students add a picture - it can be just the student, family, pet(s), whatever. Last, they have to tell me at least 2 things about themselves. I have the slide show run at the beginning of class for a week or so. This way, not only do I get to know them, but their classmates do too.

I would LOVE to hear other strategies though, especially for getting students to know each other for when they are working in groups.

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I do the exact same thing! I love having their pictures because it helps me learn names.

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Awesome idea! I started something similar in Seesaw. I may need to switch platforms.

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I love this idea, Molly! I think it would also be cool for them to add to it throughout the year with additional details about themselves (ex: something I love about this time of year is________) or with learning reflections (ex: Something that I am proud of learning recently is_______)! It could be fun to watch at the end of the year and for them take with them as a reminder of their growth.

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In the past I had used a google form for this because I also ask them about concerns they might need to share with me but not publicly. Things that are personal but relevant to their education. Students will tell me things about anger issues they have, anxiety, etc.

This year I have shifted that to a Formative, and am asking them also to draw something. I’m curious to see what the drawing reveals.

I do a name game too, everyone stands in a circle, tells us something FUN – Family, Upbringing, Novelty. Their novelty has to have an action to go with it. It works pretty well, except in classes where students have very poor home lives.

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I love to get to know Ss through fun activities:
* Play dough the first day - they make something that represents them and they share it on @Flipgrid
* International Dot Day - Use Quiver and create an AR dot that expresses how they want to make their mark.

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I really like how you work to build deep relationships with your students and understand different factors that might be affecting their learning, Maybe it wouldn’t work well for students sharing their concerns, but you could have students respond to other questions and their project their responses to have a class discussion around. You could use the “hide names” feature in case they’d feel more comfortable discussing things that way. I could also see using that feature for a fun “Guess Who” game where they try to guess who each response belongs to based on something fun and light (Ex: favorite food, book). Maybe it could be done as review after they learn those details via an ice breaker.

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A little game skin I developed that helps reinforce expectations while at the same time allowing you to get to know your students Beat the Teacher - BTS edition

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I do a lot of relationship building activities mixed with content, but students don’t know it:) The first day of school, I emptied the room of everything. Students thought I quit because my room was empty:) I got exercise mats and taught them how to relax and take a break from technology of all kinds. After 40 minutes of going over vocabulary like “bolster” yourself or someone else up, breathing and stretching. I invited the students to lay still in silence on the mats and go to sleep. In 3 minutes there were students snoring. They slept about 10 minutes and got up to go to their next class. Best first day every.

At the end of the year I did a survey with the students. Over half said they wanted help with anger management. My strategy I created so that I could apply for a grant is called SAAMIES - stress anxiety anger management integrated exercise strategies. These include physical like breathing and stretching and mental like reading and journaling.

In the past I have also used play dough to help students learn how to make roses. A skill they revisist in May to make fondant flowers for Mother’s day cakes.

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This looks like a lot of fun! Do you build in time for you and your students to check out the questions in advance and learn the correct information? If not, is there a requirement that the questions need to have answers that have been discussed within class?

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For the BTS one, we play after we have talked bout expectations, procedures, etc. and done all the nuts and bolts of my class, so it is a way to reinforce them. On the other hand, I may already know some of the answers to the student questions, but mostly they will be guesses. The plan is for them to thoroughly beat me the first time around. :slight_smile: I bring oi out again a few weeks after that once they have shared their answers and the hope is that it will be more of a challenge to beat me.

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Ah gotcha! What a great way to lay the groundwork for building great relationships with students throughout the year :slight_smile:

This year I am doing a blended lesson/station rotation with my freshman (shared with me by another educator) - Ss will - work collaboratively on a “classmate quiz”, work independently setting a short term and a long term goal, answer some questions for me on a Google form, and work collaboratively to describe an ideal classroom. Most of our students have been together since K, but a small number come from a neighboring district so inclusion is important.

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Interesting! I think the station rotation model is a great idea for helping students get to know one another because they are able to communicate in smaller groups. Do you the groups that you make stick together from station to station or do they mix again after one station?

They will stay together for the complete rotation so that I can be sure everyone completes each station. Throughout the year the groups are quite fluid, based sometimes on Formative! assessments, sometimes on student choice…

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One thing that I used to do when I was in the classroom was have students create a Coat of Arms in Google Draw. Students would have to add artifacts to their Draw that would have attached links to something for users to check out that told them something about that person (hobbies, family, where they were born…). Students always dug creating them and then sharing theirs with others to learn about their peers.

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In a similar vein, but with a modern twist I have my students create layered selfies like this one using Pxlr. If interested, a write up with a linked lesson is posted on KQED’s In the classroom

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Love me some Pixlr! Great idea. Thanks for sharing out.

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