I like to start off by introducing myself as more than "just a teacher". I want students to know that I have a life beyond the classroom - I'm a mountain biker, a snowboarder, a hiker, a wife, a dog owner, a traveller, a reader... it's amazing how many kids I can connect with over the activities I participate in! Finding a connection with kids is so important to me and it's done wonders over the years to build great rapport with my students. I have a fun "Back to School Survey" I give students to get to know them a little bit better and I encourage them to share their answers with each other. Download a FREE copy of the survey from an earlier blog post HERE.
Sticky Notes can also be a powerful tool for getting to know students and creating an open and sharing classroom. I have piles on my desk and I want students to get used to the idea of sharing ideas on the board so I do a few activities in the first few days with sticky notes. When students are asked questions and then told they can post their answers anonymously on the board they are more likely to be very forthcoming with their answers.
- ask students to write down two things they're excited about and one thing they're nervous about in regards to your class - post them on the board and then discuss with the class
- ask a fun question - "If you could perform with any band in world who would it be?" or "If you were a car, what would you be?" and share their answers they've posted on the board
- ask students for advice as you start off the year - "Write down two things that would make this class work really well for you." OR "Great teachers __________________"
- One of the subjects I teach is Geography so to get kids thinking about my subject area I'll ask them to write down their favorite city, their dream vacation destination, the closest volcano to our school, list two environmental concerns...
- When I teach English, I ask students to write down their favorite book, their favorite character, what fictional city they'd love to visit, the book character they're most like....
- The students love the see what everyone else has come up with, but they also love the fact that it's anonymous so they're not self-conscious about writing down an answer.
Check out the linky over at Corkboard Connections for all sorts of great ideas to start building a caring classroom environment right from the first day of school!
Hope you have a smooth transition into your classroom this new school year.