As we begin the new year, my goal is to know and understand each and every student in sixth grade. This always feels like an overwhelming task in August, as I have 76 unique and beautiful young people in which I want to make connections. It was so much easier in Preschool when I had a self-contained classroom of 15 little ones!
Here are 3 steps I use in the first month to accomplish my goal:
- Get to know their names: I strive to know each student’s first name during the first week of school. I do this by studying their pictures each night before class so I say their name in class or the hallway when I see them.
- Have them make name tents with symbols: During the first day of class, the students make name tents with their names and a unique symbol that gives me my first glance into what makes them unique. A drawing of a sport, a pet or even a smiley face gives me an opening for a dialogue that gives our relationship meaning.
- Give an assignment that reveals their personality: Each year is different (so far) as I am still experimenting with the concept. This year I assigned a ‘BioPoem’ that gave insights on things they love, they give and they struggle with in life. I read these deeply and process them with care as it provides so much information about what is going on inside!
In addition to these three steps, taking pictures also helps me make connections. During the first weeks, I like to put these pictures on Twitter so I can share the wonderful experiences in Grade 6 Literature class. But then, I like to take pictures so I can share the connections with my students. Since I see my Advisory every day, I begin with this one.
There is nothing like a ‘selfie’ to capture this special moment!