4 Tips for Getting to Know Your Students

By Shannon Bentley — For the Spring Semester, I will be working with 9th graders in an English class at Hamilton High School for my student teaching experience.crowd_of_facesIt is difficult to put in to words how excited I am; I find it invigorating to finally get in to a classroom and take full control of the reins.

I am currently planning an extensive amount of work for my first unit, which is poetry. However, I realized that I am missing the main ingredient in my lessons – I do not know who my students are. I don’t know their SES status or their ethnic/racial background, I don’t know their extra-curricular activities or their likes/dislikes, I don’t their weaknesses or their strengths, and I found myself understanding that it is okay.

The most challenging goal in teaching is getting to know who your students are as individuals. However, I believe that these four tips will help you prepare to find out who your students really are.

Create a form of diversity in your lessons and understand what it means to be a 21st century learner.

Your students will appreciate if you show that you are a multicultural individual and you know diversity in literature. Even, if you only have one representation of someone (minority, gay, religious etc.), you will still be able to build that sense of community in your classroom. Also, old texts and novels are very hard for students to comprehend who are in the modern world of technology. Therefore, if you also implement modern works or pop culture in your lessons and show how they apply to old literature, you will 90% most likely show your students that you know what they are in to without them telling you.

Understand that your students don’t know who you are either.

You are a new teacher to them. You took over for the teacher that they just got to know in the beginning of the year, so understand that they might be a little frustrated. But introduce yourself in a way to show the students that you are more than just a teacher. Show them your likes/dislikes or biggest accomplishments or even talk about your struggles.

 If it is possible, find out ahead of time if you have any IEP or special needs students.

This tip is a big one. I know thatI will be teaching ELL students for 48 minutes every day and I already have begun to modify the lessons to the best of their ability. Talk to your cooperating teacher, or if you are a first year teacher, ask a veteran how to possibly look up the information. Every student counts in your lessons.

Remember! It is okay! The experience of not knowing your students will teach you how to modify your lessons in order to accommodate your students when you do know them. That is the joy of teaching.

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