By Cherie Werner
School is coming soon! You are busy getting things ready for your new students. You are writing names on books and desktops, folders and lockers. You have a list of their names but have you met any of them yet?
Maybe you saw some of them at recess or in the hallway last year. Maybe you taught their older siblings. Maybe there are a few you don’t know at all. In any case, each of your students has a story and this year you get to be a part of it. You get the chance to get to know every child in a very personal way!
A year is a long time to spend with a child. You get to see him or her grow, learn, and hopefully, mature. In all of your interactions with your students, you will be learning more and more about them but they don’t always know that you are paying attention or making observations. Because you have a large group of children to work with, sometimes students feel like just one of the crowd. In an effort to help each student feel special and important, try one or more of the following ideas.
Celebrate a different child every week. You’ve probably heard of appointing a Star Student or Student of the Week. Beyond that, you could assign that week’s student a special job or have the student create an “All about Me” poster. The student could eat lunch alone with the teacher, bring in a special book to read or have read to the class, bring in a favorite game or toy, or tell about a trip or vacation.
Praise a child publicly. Tell parents good things with the child listening. Celebrate together when their child does well academically and behaviorally, when he or she is kind to classmates, shows generosity, and self-sacrifice. Share examples of hard work, perseverance, and faith.
Write a letter to each child. In all of your observations and interactions, you have gotten to know your students very well. At the end of the year write a letter to each student. Tell him or her what you have noticed. Highlight strengths that you see and encourage in areas of weakness or struggle. Give each student a vision for the future, encourage faith practices, and emphasize God’s personal love and grace for him or her.
Have students write good things about each other. You are not the only one who is noticing things about your students. Classmates learn a lot about one another during the course of a school year. Toward the end of the year, have students each write (or dictate) something nice about each of their peers or an encouraging observation about each of the other students. Compile that list in some way for each student.
Recognize birthdays. Birthdays are special for everyone so find a way to celebrate with your students. Make a card, give a small present, have everyone sing—do something that shows you care. For those students with summer birthdays, make an effort to remember half birthdays or let them pick a day to celebrate.
Connect with your students. Notice things like clothes, hairstyles, a new backpack, and especially feelings. For example, say, “You look sad today. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?” Ask questions about the students’ weekend or evening activities and remember to ask follow-up questions later.
Remember this: Years from now, the children in your class may forget some of what you taught them, but they will always remember how you made them feel!
What tips can you share about interacting with students?
You are welcome to copy this article for one-time use when you include this credit line and receive no monetary benefit from it: © 2018 CTA, Inc. Used with permission.