As you are getting ready to meet your new students, remember that getting to know them is more than just silly ice breakers and bingo games. I’m not disparaging those activities, I’ve even posted several of them. However, know that the process of getting to know your students doesn’t end when you’ve found out who’s visited a foreign country.
I’ve never believed that you have to like your students in order to teach them. However, over the course of a year, I do try to find one thing I appreciate in each of them. Some things like charm, a sense of humor or an encyclopedic knowledge of dinosaurs show themselves on the first day of school. However, other things like a penchant for organization, a photographic memory, or the ability to cleverly problem solve take time to reveal themselves.
Signs of personality in your students show themselves everywhere if you’re looking for them. I notice which cartoon characters are on which student’s backpack or homework folder. I notice how they relate to each other when they think I’m not listening. I provide opportunities like music and drama, often integrated with the rest of our curriculum, to provide opportunities for students to show talents that don’t typically show up in a classroom.
So, if you think you’re going to get to know your students during the first day, first week, or even first month of school, remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint and keep yourself open to getting to know who they are all year. Knowing who they are helps you know how to reach them. And the ones who are hardest to reach need you the most.