Knowing the answers to these questions may be the strategy you need to create spaces of trust and optimal conditions for learning.
There are some things that teachers should know about their students, because according to Professor Maurice J. Elias, doing so can influence the way it is taught. This happens because, many of those things can be a reflection of what students need to learn, to feel relevant, to be happy and also resilient. Furthermore, Maurice explains in an Edutopia article, understanding who they are on a deep level can be a tool for teachers to support their students more, while also being more understanding.
Maurice says that in the article Improving teacher empathy to improve student behavior , school climate psychologist Robert Brooks explains that teachers increase their empathy by asking themselves “what words do I want my student to use to describe me? ” This is an alternative, but what other strategies exist to generate meaningful connections with children? Maurice shares a series of questions that can and should be adapted with students of all ages. Knowing the answers to these questions, says the teacher, is also a way of knowing what is needed to help create positive or optimal conditions for learning.
Questions to get started …
These can be written on flashcards and the children can answer behind the flashcards. They can do one a day, especially in the first week of school.
1. What makes you feel welcome?
2. How do you like to be greeted?
3. What strengths do you bring to the classroom and to school?
4. So far, what do you like best about school? What would you like to change?
Questions to strengthen relationships …
These can be done in a similar way to the first ones, only in a more advanced period. Maybe in the second or third week of school.
5. When do you feel competent and how often?
6. At what point do you feel listened to?
7. When do you feel that your voice is respected?
8. When do you feel loved?
9. In what moments do you feel that you can be a leader?
10. When do you feel safe or unsafe?
11. When do you laugh at school?
Use these questions throughout the school year. After these you can design discussion spaces to get to know your students even more. Through this exercise, you will be able to enhance their ability to reflect and influence their resilience.
12. What is your contribution to the school?
13. What person thinks you can be successful?
14. What things scare or frustrate you at school?
15. In what situations do you feel supported and challenged?
16. What inspires you about school?
17. Who helps you recover from difficulties?
18. Who is happy talking to you?
19. When do you feel that it is okay to make a mistake or show that you don’t know something?
Maurice explains that it usually takes a few weeks for students to get a clear idea of their answers. But when they get to this point, they manage to recognize those who value them and also those things that make a difference in school. In addition, in the first weeks, they will see that you are trying to become an adult they can trust, which is essential to strengthen the relationship that will take place throughout the year. These questions are essential to getting to know children and therefore the best way to help them find answers. Thus, says Maurice, the encouragement and energy of students is focused on building confidence, resilience and growth through learning.