Getting to know your students

Individual students

Knowing our students is a key professional responsibility – as well as the source of much of the pleasure of teaching.  

Know students and how they learn – Standard One, Australian Professional Standards for Teachers

Initially we get to know students in the same way as any other acquaintance – recognising them by sight, calling them by name, gaining a few facts to support conversation - but we need both social and professional information.  A way forward I explore further in some of my workshops is C.O.A.C.H. -

Conversation – taking opportunities to chat to students on yard duty, before school, on excursions and so on provides a great deal of information about their daily life and interests as well as developing your relationship.  Conversations or correspondence with parents and carers provide information and insights, so early contact with home is very important.  

Observation – considering what you see of the student from how they interact with peers to their state when they arrive in the morning even to what stickers they have on their pencil case reveals a considerable amount about their life, their social skills and their interests.

Appropriate – the way we get and use information about and interact with our students must be ethical and protective of children/young people and ourselves.  Protective Practices ensure we are respectful of our students and contribute to a safe environment for children/young people and staff.

Curriculum – in planning we can use learning activities which encourage students to make choices, use resources in their environment and explore their interests, which all provide insights into the student and their circumstances.

History – our students do not come to us as blank slates. Individual learning plans and student records provide crucial information about their learning and wellbeing needs and strengths.  After checking learning plans, if you have a great many students you may need to prioritise which records you check – those students about whom you have had concerns raised through their work, your observations or in conversations will be first.  In many cases colleagues who taught the student in previous years can provide vital information.    

Some related links for further ideas:

Listening to Students

Tell Me About … / How You Get to Know Your Students  

The COACH model is explored in more detail in the ebook In Relation to Your Students

from the News & Views of

Anne Williams, Consulting Educator

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