First impressions are lasting impressions, so you want to make sure that on the first day of school you make a good first impression on the students. Part of that is learning everything you can about the students where the student knows they aren’t just another student to you.
1. Before the Students Come on Day 1
It may not seem possible to get to know your students before you even start back to school, but there is a lot of vital information you can learn about your students prior to them coming. Once you get your class roster find out which teacher each student had the previous year and talk to them. Previous teachers can tell you the best ways to handle each student. Maybe the teacher found that the student learns best if sitting in the front of the classroom or maybe they found that this was a student who would participate a lot in class and if sitting in the back of the class could help push the conversation forward. They also may have issues with certain students or like to talk with others and not need to sit by them.
You should also be able to access previous test scores. Find out where your students stand and if there is a certain area they need extra help in. Make a folder for each student so that you can also trace the student’s progress through the year. You may also ask previous teachers if the students test scores are an accurate representation of the student’s abilities. It is important to know if the student simply does not test well.
If you have an opportunity to talk to or meet the student’s parents, use it. Often you will have an open house prior to the first day of school. However, for those parents who are unable to attend, reach out to them. It is worth the effort to get to know the parents as early in the relationship as you can because if you have a problem with the student later in the year, you may their assistance in dealing with the issue. It is always good to start on a good note and have the relationship present prior to having to call with a problem.
Get to know your students in a fun way. There are hundreds of ideas for breaking the ice with them and beginning to learn who they are as a person and not just a student. Some fun on the first day is also a good way to ease students back into the school time routine.
Play Bingo with them. An easy game to play with them that will get them up and moving as well as getting to know each other is a game similar to Bingo. Instead of letters and numbers though each box is filled with descriptive phrase, such as “loves to read” or “has been to a concert.” They are meant to be generic. You can find boards online or make them yourself. The students have to talk to others and have them sign their names on the boxes that describe them. Depending on the size of your class limit the number of times they can use one person so that they have to meet more people. Partcipate yourself and let the students learn about you.
Tasty treats often work as well to get to know students. You need to be careful with this one and be sure to follow school rules about food. If you can’t use candy, you can use anything that iwll intrigue the students to take some. Don’t tell them what they are taking the items for when you offer them. When you go into the room, have the students tell you one thing about themselves for each item they have.
3. Learning Names
The best way to learn students’ names is to use them often. Certain ones may stick in your mind. If you are bad with names, apologize if you call them the wrong name. Have them sit in the same seats for the first few weeks especially that way you can associate a seat and a name and then a name and a face. Try and associate their name with a quirk they have. For example, Sally is silly or Fred has red hair. Something distinctive and easy to remember.