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July 21, 2017

Student Interest Surveys: Getting to Know You

By John DePasquale
Grades 3–5, 6–8

    There really is only one way to learn about students at the beginning of a school year: ask them! I learn about my new students by asking them interesting questions about themselves, and really listening to their responses. It might sound simplistic, but carefully listening to students is crucial during the initial getting-to-know-you period of a new school year. It’s a powerful way to establish student-teacher relationships by building trust.  As a result of this, I always want to learn as much as I can about my students as quickly as possible.

    Questions swirl in my mind from the moment we meet. Who are you? What are you passionate about? What do you love to do when you’re not in school? What are you really good at? What are you not so good at? Through all of these questions, I ultimately want to know how I can be the best teacher possible for each of my students. However, when I consider the 32 brand new faces staring back at me on the first day of school, it can seem a bit overwhelming!

    Getting to know my new students is certainly a gradual process, but it’s a process I begin on Day One. To do this effectively and efficiently, student interest surveys are valuable tools I use at the beginning of the school year.

    Student Interest Survey

    Well-designed student interest surveys provide valuable information from students that teachers use to:

    ·       Establish and maintain positive relationships

    ·       Inform instruction in response to their students’ individual needs and preferences

    ·       Intentionally recommend materials to students based on their expressed interests

    Student interest and instruction are closely linked. Student interest greatly influences learning engagement and the students’ ability to connect to new ideas.   Students are more likely to be engaged if the instruction taps into or connects to their interests.

    With the information I learn from the surveys, I’m able to make important instructional decisions based on my students’ actual interests instead of assumptions that might be completely wrong. Also, assumptions that are based on broad generalizations are especially problematic. If I only read books based on assumptions my teachers had about me, I would have missed the chance to fall in love with The Baby-Sitters Club series when I was younger. Reading the zany adventures of young entrepreneurs was much more interesting and enjoyable than if my teachers simply assumed I’d prefer books about football or another equally non-relevant topic to me! Student interest surveys provide me with the information I need to avoid making a similar mistake.

    Here is a sample of a survey I use on the first day of school. I hope this will help you think of questions you might ask to learn more about your students. Or download this Student Interest survey to print and hand out to your class during the first days of school.

    Regardless of the questions you choose, it’s important that we just ask. Asking students questions because you are sincerely interested in knowing more about them as individuals is a powerful way to start the year. It tells students their voices and perspectives are valued, and it creates a classroom culture that acknowledges and responds to students’ unique needs and preferences.

     

    What strategies help you learn more about your new students at the beginning of the year?

     

     

     

     

    There really is only one way to learn about students at the beginning of a school year: ask them! I learn about my new students by asking them interesting questions about themselves, and really listening to their responses. It might sound simplistic, but carefully listening to students is crucial during the initial getting-to-know-you period of a new school year. It’s a powerful way to establish student-teacher relationships by building trust.  As a result of this, I always want to learn as much as I can about my students as quickly as possible.

    Questions swirl in my mind from the moment we meet. Who are you? What are you passionate about? What do you love to do when you’re not in school? What are you really good at? What are you not so good at? Through all of these questions, I ultimately want to know how I can be the best teacher possible for each of my students. However, when I consider the 32 brand new faces staring back at me on the first day of school, it can seem a bit overwhelming!

    Getting to know my new students is certainly a gradual process, but it’s a process I begin on Day One. To do this effectively and efficiently, student interest surveys are valuable tools I use at the beginning of the school year.

    Student Interest Survey

    Well-designed student interest surveys provide valuable information from students that teachers use to:

    ·       Establish and maintain positive relationships

    ·       Inform instruction in response to their students’ individual needs and preferences

    ·       Intentionally recommend materials to students based on their expressed interests

    Student interest and instruction are closely linked. Student interest greatly influences learning engagement and the students’ ability to connect to new ideas.   Students are more likely to be engaged if the instruction taps into or connects to their interests.

    With the information I learn from the surveys, I’m able to make important instructional decisions based on my students’ actual interests instead of assumptions that might be completely wrong. Also, assumptions that are based on broad generalizations are especially problematic. If I only read books based on assumptions my teachers had about me, I would have missed the chance to fall in love with The Baby-Sitters Club series when I was younger. Reading the zany adventures of young entrepreneurs was much more interesting and enjoyable than if my teachers simply assumed I’d prefer books about football or another equally non-relevant topic to me! Student interest surveys provide me with the information I need to avoid making a similar mistake.

    Here is a sample of a survey I use on the first day of school. I hope this will help you think of questions you might ask to learn more about your students. Or download this Student Interest survey to print and hand out to your class during the first days of school.

    Regardless of the questions you choose, it’s important that we just ask. Asking students questions because you are sincerely interested in knowing more about them as individuals is a powerful way to start the year. It tells students their voices and perspectives are valued, and it creates a classroom culture that acknowledges and responds to students’ unique needs and preferences.

     

    What strategies help you learn more about your new students at the beginning of the year?

     

     

     

     

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