It has been an interesting start to the school year. I have a change in my teaching assignment and for the first time I have ½ day of prep coverage. Getting to know all the names and developing relationships with over 100 students I see 80 minutes a week has been a challenge. Especially since most of my teaching position has me in the gym (no desks and regular seating plans).
To help me get to know the student names – I have the students change into gym clothes. At the beginning of the year, I had the students sit on the floor or bench in the gym and went through the class list calling out the student names and putting a face to the names. As the year has progressed, I have moved to having the students come up to me and showing me their clothes. I have them share their last name which still gave me time to get to know their names. To move things even faster, the students who have brought in their gym clothes regularly go a change right away and say hi to me as they come into the gym.
The student teacher relationship has taken some time to develop. I try to find a way to connect with each student. Some students, I ask about their extra-curricular activities (sports, dance, etc). Once I know what the student participates in, I try to ask the student about their extra-curricular once a month. For my ELL or students who do not have extra-curricular, I ask about their weekend or break plans. Sometimes, the kids go to the movies and I ask about the movie s/he saw.
Developing the relationships have really helped with the classroom management during the prep periods. The students have appreciated my effort to get to know them a little better and are making a larger effort to listen and to do their best during class time. It is great to have the kids walk up to you in the halls asking when we have your class again. I know some of that is because it is gym but also I have some classroom prep which kids are also inquiring about. Making the connection with students is something that helps to make a difference in student education.