I spend time building a team environment. The kids get to interact with one another, ask questions, and draw comparisons between themselves and their new classmates. Much of our instruction is in small groups, so I use that opportunity to get not only a sense of the students’ learning styles but also their personalities.
I listen to their stories anytime, except during actual work time.
We start our day with a greeting (hugs, handshakes, high fives, snake shakes), and we end it that way, too. We make contact, but each child controls how he or she is to be greeted.
Ask and Receive
You find out what makes them tick. Ask questions; get answers.
Lend an Ear
I give my seventh graders a place to be heard.
It’s about finding out their interests and concerns and taking the time to hear them out. Students love when you take an interest in what matters to them.
I try to talk to all of my students—especially those who have behavior issues—about non-school-related things as often as possible. They need to know you care. I also share tidbits about my life, without being too personal, to help them see me as a real person.
Snapshots and Bingo
I start the year with a presentation about myself. It shows I’m a person, too, not just a teacher (and they love the pictures of my pets!). Then we play Getting to Know You bingo. Other than that, I treat my fourth graders like people. I listen—it goes a long way toward building rapport.
I keep promises.
Our first writing standard has to do with personal narratives, so I show them my personalized journal, which has pictures of all my likes: family, pets, foods, restaurants. Then I have students glue a heart in the back of their journals and list all the things that are closest to their hearts. This meets the standard and helps me get to know each of my kids.
Listen, Listen, Listen
Eat lunch with them. They will tell you everything!