Teachers are experts in creating more experts. My students are experts in so many different things. It’s amazing.
Tapping into the expertise of students really opens up possibilities for new ideas and lessons. Formally teachers can survey the class. Asking questions of hobbies and interests. This method is great to start out with. There is a record of students that can be kept in a neat folder in a filing cabinet after careful study for the first week of school.
The more effective expert keeps on studying and updating information as it changes. Taking a few minutes before school to wander the halls while drinking a morning cup of coffee is a great way to connect with students and ask about the previous night’s successes. Coffee makes it casual.
When something striking happens to a student then it can be added to the file folder, mental or physical.
Another time that is great for polling students is the few minutes before class starts. A pre-captive audience is there and prehaps there may be a lucky break for a smooth transition into the day’s lesson. Quarterly the formal re-polling of students so that they can update their information or new information can be added is great. Also, the class can bond as a group instead of just one-on-one. Talking with students is so much better than the paperwork.
With the cards before the hallway stroll pull out your makeshift student information rolledex, review it, and find a student to chat about a hobby. If feeling really ambitious a Wikipedia article about the student’s interest can be perused before the morning coffee stroll. Looking up information can lead to better questions and show that some effort is being made beyond just knowing of the existence of the hobby.
The most simple thing is just go and walk the halls asking studetns with sports jerseys about who they are playing and wishing the studetns luck.