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43 -- Getting to know the students.

Continuing on from the last Lesson in a Can idea of introducing the teacher......

Getting to know your students will be your top job the first few weeks/month. It is essential that you gauge what they already know but even more importantly, essential that you get to know them as "individuals". This book/post might help you before you start teaching.

 

You might not remember all their names or exactly what they each individually like/dislike but you should get a general idea of interests and what motivates them. This should impact what you teach -- use their interests and curiosity to drive the content of your own lesson plans.

How to do that? Well, for one you could give a needs assessment. Basically that is just a checklist or quick questionnaire of what things you'd like to know about them. Keep this on file for reference. I'll upload an example of a comprehensive one which asks students about their own English level and attitude towards learning English. Further, you got to have a Seating Plan for each class. Just make an A4 of squares representing the class and pass it around. Students will fill it in. Each class, have it on your desk for reference. Look at the students, look at the seating plan, refer to the students by name. Pretty soon, you won't have to look at the seating plan. Also, if you make it quite large, you can make notes beside a student's name for reference. A very handy tool, a seating plan!

Icebreakers are great ways to get students to mingle and get to know each other. My fav. is the 3 truths, one lie game. See a whole bunch more in this old discussion thread where I outline the 3 truths , 1 lie "snowball fight" game. So many more. I've uploaded here a couple for higher level students. One other quick one is to have students write all over an A4, certain key words about their life. For example, purple, 1999, horses, Delaware etc..... They switch papers with a partner and ask each other questions. "What does Delaware mean? Were you born there?" etc..... Teacher demonstrates by writing the key words on the board about him/herself and then students will ask the questions.

Good luck creating a friendly, free and fervent classroom. The attention you pay on the "mingling" lesson ideas early on, will pay off in student motivation and learning in the future (remember Krashen's Affective Filter Hypothesis!!!!).

Resources:   Guessing about classmates.doc  |   Getting to know your classmates   |   SEATING PLAN.doc




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Here is a nice handout from collaboratize Classroom - 8 great icebreakers. Classics and useful to use in the language classroom.
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Here is a nice seating chart that can be edited as needed. Use the first weeks in class to help remember student's names. 

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