Things to know about students from day one

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by krysmorgsu, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Jul 19, 2009

    I was wondering what sort of things other high school teachers like to know about their students from the get-go. Last year, I used Harry Wong's (I think it was him) advice about having a questionnaire prepared for the kids. I used the advice of what to ask, too. Well, my kids hated it! It was too long. My co-op teacher the year before just used a set of index cards - asking things the basics (name, dob, student ID #, parent/guardian names, address, phone) and 2 other things: why they were taking Latin and one thing they wanted to share with her about themselves (maybe they played sports, drew, played piano, went to China, etc.). I like the idea of having index cards - I have a supply of the 5 x 9 cards - because then it's handy to take home if you need to make parent calls, and she was able to use them for a lot of notes about behavior, detentions, etc. I was wondering what everyone else does. I'm not opposed to not having the notes on cards, but I want to know if anyone else has found what they consider the ideal ?s to ask. Thanks.
     
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  3. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2009

    I have a form with contact info (address, phone#s and language spoken at home, email for parents, student schedule) - I always have them do that the first day, when they're least likely to lie about the phone numbers :) It also includes a brief technology survey - do you have a computer at home, internet access, how comfortable are you using a computer, etc. That's all I keep written down.

    There are other things that are useful to know, but you can get those from some of the getting-to-know-you games - people bingo, the beachball game someone mentioned recently, writing samples, etc. It's up to you whether you want to jot stuff down as you find it out - I've never tried but it might be useful. I like to be able to ask kids about stuff they're interested in. It helps make a connection.
     
  4. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    Jul 19, 2009

    You may not ask this info of the students themselves, but should know about:

    learning disabilities
    allergies
    medications
    behavioral problems
    language spoken at home
    whether they have jobs
     
  5. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    The learning disabilities/medications (if it effects me) I find out about from the school. Are you saying that I can't ask the students the other ?s about allergies, language spoken at home, and jobs? I hadn't even thought about allergies, but could I ask, "Are there any allergies you have that you feel I should know about?" For example, I'm allergic to red cinnamon (weird, I know). Not that I allow gum, but I had an incident with a student coming in with Big Red gum or something of the sort last year, and had to ferret out who had it because it was making me nauseous. I could give my example, and say, "If you think it's something that I need to be aware of because it could become an issue in class, please let me know." Or is that considered a medical question that I have no right to ask?
     
  6. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Thanks, I forgot about the technology issue, which has actually come up in my class before. I have to remember to include that! I do plan on asking the language at home, and asking if one or either parent/guardian speaks English or if there's someone else I should contact in that case, so I know if I need a translator for parent contact. Sometimes at my school an older brother/sister/or aunt/uncle needs to take teacher calls, because the parents don't speak English. Sometimes they even have to call in a trusted ESL student for parent-teacher conferences! (Hasn't been me yet, but I do wonder about the legality of using another student rather than them hiring a translator)
     
  7. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Jul 19, 2009

    I think she means you *might* not ask them, not that you're not allowed. Check your state if you're not sure. A lot of times I only find out about medical stuff from asking the kid, b/c the nurse doesn't tend to tell you stuff until there's a huge problem. Jobs is a great idea, especially for 11th-12th grades. You could even ask something like "afterschool activities," which covers both clubs and stuff they do elsewhere, including home and family. A lot of my students take care of younger siblings after school.

    Depending where you are, if you have those older grades it's also not entirely unreasonable that some of them might have children themselves (sad but true.) That's something that's also useful to know, especially if they begin to have attendance issues. I don't usually ask about that directly, but if it's the case it usually comes up on its own.
     
  8. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Good idea to make the jobs question more all-encompassing. A fair number of my students have jobs, community service, younger siblings to take care of, or after-school activities like sports and clubs. I don't want to sound elitist, but typically my kids don't have kids already. I typically get the college-bound, driven, with involved parents students - so for me I guess I would wait on that question and see if it comes up.
     
  9. Mrs. K.

    Mrs. K. Enthusiast

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    krysmorgsu, my population sounds a lot like yours. We do have about 15% minority students who may not have everything the more well-off kids have, so I include questions about whether they have a computer with internet access at home and a reliable printer.

    I have all seniors, and I'm pretty darn tired of the "my computer ran out of ink" excuse when an assignment is due, so on my policies and procedures handout this year I'm listing the address and operating hours of the local FedEx/Kinko's!
     
  10. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    A former colleague of mine had her kids fill out an "application" to be in her class. She made it look like an app from MacDonalds or wherever but she made it school related. Like instead of "when would you be available to work" she said, "When will you be able to work on outside projects". For work history, she asked them about their grade history in her subject. She still asked for references, but she wanted them from former teachers. It was really neat.
     
  11. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    I wasn't referring to your legal limitations in asking questions, but just suggesting that you would probably get some of the answers from students' records, guidance counselors, etc.
     
  12. each1teach1

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    A question we ask at my school is about extra-curricular activities, not only does it let you know what's important to them, it let's you know who you can contact if they're giving you problems. It's one more step you can take before writing them up or sending them to the office. Sometimes coach can get to that kid in a way that teacher or mom and dad never could.
     
  13. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    I have a form my students fill out on the first day. The most important questions I get the most info about my students

    *I am really good at ___________

    * My greatest accomplishment is ___________

    * I learn best when _________________

    * It is hard for me to learn when ______________________

    * One thing I want you to know about me _________________

    I have all the other common questions on the form, but these questions really help me learn who my students are and what is important to them.
     
  14. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Jul 20, 2009

    That's funny! Don't forget to include the hours of the local library!!

    Actually, my school is extremely diverse - no majority, about 1/3 white, black, and Latino, with a small percentage of Asians. It's just that people have the idea that Latin is really hard, and for some reason more whites than minorities take it (I think the minorities think a couple of things about it, in general: it's too hard, it's only for rich white people, and it's a dead language. I could be wrong, but it's my own conclusions) . I do have somewhat of a mix in my classes (racially), but I do have a majority white and Asian. My classes are certainly not typical of my school! And most of my kids are honor roll students. I get the creme de la creme -- this year I had the Valedictorian, the Salutatorian took Latin through level 3, last year's Valedictorian was a Latin student..you get the idea.
     
  15. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    That sounds interesting! Did the kids like it?
     
  16. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Thanks guys! Keep it coming! I'm getting great feedback on what works - I certainly don't want my kids wondering about me the first day like last year!
     
  17. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    It prompted a good discussion and set a good tone, I think. She worked really hard to make her senior English class as "real world" relevant as possible... probably more than I've ever seen any other academic teacher do. All assignments were given as "job descriptions" and when she put them in teams for group assignments, they had to "apply" for leadership positions within the group. Only the group leaders qualified for an "A" for those assignments! It made things very competitive and focused. She did it with regular level kids, too, in an inner city school.

    I've tried small parts of what she did, but I teach the testing grade (11th), so honestly, I focus a lot more on that. I'm not sure this kind of approach would work for freshman or sophomores. The application for the class might still work, though.
     
  18. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    Thanks, bandnerdtx!
     
  19. dovian

    dovian Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2009

    >I have all seniors, and I'm pretty darn tired of the "my computer ran out of ink" excuse when an assignment is due, so on my policies and procedures handout this year I'm listing the address and operating hours of the local FedEx/Kinko's!

    I have an email policy. If they have some kind of emergency they can email it to me by the deadline and I'll accept it as on time. They then have one week to get me a hard copy, which they can do from the school library. After that it's late, same as everybody else's would be. This year I will be adding the injunction that if I feel their emailed essay is not up to snuff (that is, it was emailed because they wrote it in the library on their lunch break) I may revoke their chance to email the next assignment. Hmm, thinking about it I might also add something about their having to show me a rough draft . . . not sure about that though, it would make more work for me and I already do check rough drafts in class. Maybe if they don't have a rough draft in class, they become ineligible to email? Things to think about . . .
     

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