Getting to know your students

At the beginning of a new school year it is timely for PDHPE teachers (and all teachers in education, including those who teach Community and Family Studies, Exploring Early Childhood and Child Studies!) to think about how they are going to create positive relationships with their students.

PDHPE teachers all know too well about the importance of building positive relationships with their students, especially because of the sensitive nature of the issues and content that is explored in PDHPE classrooms. 

There are four main areas of suggestion for teachers to get know their students:

1. Names

Learn student names quickly. This could be done by giving the students name tags or a seating plan in the first few weeks or by being more creative by playing a rhyming game or sharing characteristics of their personality or traits. For example, Kinaesthetic Kelly. This can be done as a memory game for either the class teacher or whole class. More ideas can be found here

2. Interests

Get to know what your students enjoy doing in their spare time. This allows teachers to gain information about student areas of interest which can then be incorporated into conversations and possibly classroom activities.

3. Family

Find out more about a student’s family and background. This can give teachers an insight into their family structure as well as how they might respond to aspects of the course. Be mindful that some students may not want to share too much here.

4. Goals

Have students share their short, intermediate and long term goals with the teacher and the class. This allows teachers to focus on what motivates the students and teachers can work with them on reaching some of those goals. 

It can also be worthwhile to create class expectations together, where students and their teachers get to share what they expect of each other. This allows both parties to have clear expectations of each other, rather than just having class rules set by the teacher.

The following ‘Ten Things to Know About Me’ could even be used:

1. These things interest me

2. When I have free time I like to

3. When I’m at school I would rather work independently or in cooperative learning groups

4. I learn best when

5. I can’t learn when

6. One learning experience I would like to suggest this year is

7. My favourite subject at school is

8. Words that best describe me are

9. Here are three things that are special about my family

10. One goal I have for this year is …

Teachers, departments and whole schools can also survey their students about all of these areas. This is something that has been done at Nagle College over the last few years where surveys are sent to students via email at the end of the school year and are filled in during homeroom, Pastoral Care or at home. Teachers then get a copy of all survey responses on a spreadsheet at the beginning of the following school year to get to know their students better.

We would love for you to share more of your strategies in getting to know your students via social media on Facebook and Twitter (@ACHPERNSW) using our hashtag #achpernsw

Yours in health and wellbeing,

Kelly Bell

Nagle College, Blacktown South, NSW

President of ACHPER NSW

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