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Inside Teaching : June 2010
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org TEACHING TIPS 25 Associate Professor Rosa Sheets, from the College of Education at Texas Tech University in the United States, 84 per cent of secondary school students said that disciplinary problems could have been avoided by better teacher- student relationships. There are a variety of ways you can get to know your students. From an academic point of view, you should have access to each student's portfolio or file. In a secondary setting this can be difficult, but even so, you can approach your year level coordinator and ask for the files of students they believe you should be aware of in terms of factors that could affect their learning. In terms of getting to know your students socially and emotionally, there are a variety of strategies you can use. Here are a few: • use yard duty as an opportunity to talk to students • develop a class survey with questions ranging from how your students think they learn best to their favourite food • send a questionnaire home to parents asking them what they feel you need to know about their child -- but check first with your relevant colleague on the leadership team on school policies regarding this • read past reports and talk to your students' previous teachers • read the school bulletin -- often you'll discover information about a student, say, that they're an interschool chess champion, that you wouldn't necessarily know otherwise • volunteer to attend camps and excursions with your students, and • find out about your students' friendship groups. Remember, getting to know your students doesn't mean you have to try to become their friends, simply that the more you know about them, the better you'll understand how to help them learn -- that's what you're there to do, and that's why you're called a teacher. A note of caution, though: make sure you operate entirely properly and professionally, and according to your school's policies and procedures. The last thing you want is for your good intentions to be misinterpreted. 2 Plan for learning Planning for learning may seem obvious, but you can find yourself planning busy work rather than effective learning. Too often teachers have an activity related to a topic because the kids like it. What do you want your students to learn? When you're planning units of work, be very clear about the learning intentions, be they concept-based, knowledge- based or skill-based intentions. In turn, when planning the intended learning activities, make sure they match the learning intention or intentions.