James was that shy kid in the first row. He never offered his opinion and he didn’t seem to be very well liked in the class. In April, I asked students to share something surprising about themselves in writing. James wrote furiously. He was the first to volunteer to read. Imagine our surprise to find out that in his spare time, James was a Michael Jackson impersonator! And he was really good!
James could do all of the dance moves and mouth the words of every MJ song. He showed us a video of himself singing BAD he uploaded to Youtube! We were gobsmacked! Astounded! Personally, I couldn’t believe it was APRIL and we were just now learning about this really cool thing James loved and excelled at outside of the four walls of our school. If I hadn’t asked, he may never have revealed this about himself.
Afterwards, James totally opened up in class. He participated more and even showed us some moves. He was such an awesome kid! Learning about him made all of us appreciate his personality and it helped him feel like more a part of our class.
Even though it may seem late in the year, there is still time and value in learning more about your students’ interests.
Here are some new ways I thought of to get to know your students:
NOTE: These strategies work best when you participate too. Gauge how much you want to share but do share something with students. You will be surprised how much value comes of this sharing.
Bring in your facebook profile pic-A lot can be learned about a person based only on their profile picture. Share your picture first. Discuss prompts like:
* I chose this profile picture because…
* I think this profile picture is a great example of my personality because…
If students (or you) do not have a profile pic then make one up…draw one, cut one out of a magazine, bring in an old photo just find something to share.
Share your fav app, video game or website-Everyone has a favourite something on the Internet. This could be a way to find out a new interest category for your students. Also, you could learn something new and hip about technology through the eyes of your students.
Who is your BFF? (BFF is Best Friend Forever) Have your students describe their best friend but the rule is that it cannot be a person. For example, my best friend is a 60 pound goldendoodle! He is always there for me and laughs at all of my jokes. Students may consider their ipad a best friend or their cell phone. The creativity comes in the descriptions.
Write a thank you note to a former teacher. Give your students an example by writing one for your own high school English teacher. Who could you thank from your past? What would you say? What sort of card would you use?
How do you really feel about … (school, bullying, Math, Adults, Guns, the environment) Let it go and rant a little about how your really feel about something close to your heart. Students can use their phones to record their rants and then edit the content into a short 2 minute podcast.
Share a clip from youtube that inspires you. Be sure to have a discussion about how to choose a clip that is appropriate for class. After students share their fav short clip, have them connect the clip to different subject areas. How does this clip work as a resource in the English Curriculum? How does this clip demonstrate something we learned in Science or Math? Help students to see how school relates to their interests.
Beauty Day...This is my favourite…click here for more about writing from the heart and beauty day.
If you spend this time getting to know your students (even though it is late in the year) I promise you that the time will be valuable for building a community of caring individuals. Not only will students care about each other, they will care about you and find ways to collaborate on their learning.
You might even learn to do the moon walk!
Until Next time,