“The day you’re willing to veer off the lesson plan, follow a kid’s lead, and learn with your students is the day you really become a teacher.” This perfectly communicates the essence of being a teacher. Getting to know what the students want should be the first and foremost objective of any educator. Every student is different and one can not expect to make an effective lesson plan for them without getting to know about their strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes first.
Today, there are several teaching aids available for educators which makes teaching simpler and more productive. However, somethings don’t change and getting to know your students better will always remain a critical factor in being successful as a teacher. Some educators are naturally skilled at communicating with their students effectively and gaining insight into their personality and learning needs. If you are not one of them, despair not for this skill can be easily mastered by any teacher with a little practice. Here are a few things you can try that will definitely enable you to get to know your students in a better manner.
Learn and communicate by names-
It can be tedious at times, but as an educator you must actively try to remember the names of each of your student. Especially if you are new to the school or have to teach a new batch of students, make it a goal to recognize each student by their names by the end of first week itself. It’s not too big a goal, if you pay attention to your students. Especially if you are teaching via online classrooms or online teaching apps, it is important to establish a rapport.
You could also practice by calling each student by their names every time you call them, at least during the first week or so. As bizarre as it may seem, it is actually pretty effective in making the students become more open and trusting of you, quite quickly. Moreover, it also helps in building a rapport and developing a personal bond with the students. It also gets your students attention and improves their focus in your class.
Ask students about their goals and ambition-
Nothing sheds more light on the though process and behavior of your students their response when asked about their dreams and goals. You could ask them about their short-term goals, what all things they hope to have learned by the end of this school year, their long-term goals and likewise. You could also ask them about qualities which they would like to improve in themselves, or things they would like to improve in the school or in the society. This will let you know about their social awareness and their awareness of their own self. You could do all this with the help of questionnaires or just ask each student one by one. Alternatively, you could create a bulletin board where your students could share about their dreams and hopes.
Ask a lot of questions of your students and encourage them to ask a lot of questions and counter questions to you as well. When the students answer the questions, make it a habit to actively listen to not just what they are saying but also pay close attention to what they aren’t saying. Observe the subtle signs and changes in their body language which can reveal a lot about your students than you might think. It will happen many-a-times in your teaching career that you will see a sudden change in a student’s behavior and a change in their academic performance. Most of the time, they will not tell you what’s bothering them but active listening and paying attention to non-verbal cues may help you in getting a sense of what it is that’s stressing them out.
Talk about life outside school-
Share interesting incidents from your life outside school, with your students and in turn ask them to share theirs. This will not only help you in understanding more about them but will also help in developing a strong bond with them and make them more comfortable and open with you.
Getting to know your students is half the battle in becoming a successful teacher. The tips mentioned here shall definitely be helpful for teachers in understanding students, their motivations and learning needs in a better way.