Sunday, 4 October 2015

Simon Says: Get to Know Your Students

             As I mentioned in my previous post, these past few summers I worked at a literacy camp. It was a 6 week program, and although some campers stayed the same throughout the entire 6 weeks, there were many that changed weekly. This made getting to know my campers that much harder.

 Since each student is so unique, I had to make the lessons connect to their interests and experiences so that they would be engaged and it was relevant to them (Drake, Reid and Kolohon, 2014). This was simple to do with the campers that stayed all 6 weeks, because I developed such amazing relationships with them, and I knew all their likes and dislikes. However, it was very difficult to create that same relationship with the campers that changed weekly because there just was not enough time to get to know them well enough. Just as I finally felt like I was creating a relationship with a camper, and knew how to modify and adapt things to their needs, it would be Friday, and I wouldn’t see them again until next summer. Then, on Monday, I’d have to start all over again…

One of my favourite ice-breaker games that I used to play with my campers was something called ‘People Bingo’. The goal of the game was to find someone who fulfills your bingo squares in a line, like bingo. I would always participate in this game, because I thought it was a really great way to get to know my campers, and for them to get to know me! Below is an example of a People Bingo board, but there can obviously be many variations to it!

Luckily, the school year is not quiet as short as camp, and you have the same students for almost 10 months. So teachers should have no excuse! Getting to know your students is like a secret weapon; there are many benefits to it, and it is really very simple to do! In the following video, Danny Brassel discusses the importance of opening up to your students so that they would open up to you. I really enjoyed his speech, and I think you would too!

Not only is getting to know your students important because it allows you to tailor your lessons to their individual needs but it also helps decrease behavioral problems. Education World (2012) claims that “building positive relationships with your students is the number one way to forestall any behavioral problems that can arise in the classroom”. This is true for multiple reasons. Firstly, creating this relationship will allow your students to know you better, and have more respect for you. The more they respect you, the more they will behave in your classroom (Education World, 2012). Secondly, by getting to know your students you show that you care about them. You show them that you are willing to take time out of your day to talk to them, and learn about them. This makes them like you, not just as a teacher, but also as a person, and they will likely not want to disappoint you by misbehaving (Education World, 2012). Additionally, by knowing your students and their personalities, you have a better understanding of how they will interact with one another. This will help you when you are creating groups, and you would be able to predict which student partnerships will result in behavioural problems, and as a result you can diffuse the situation before it happens (Education World, 2012).

I can definitely say that I saw this phenomenon happen right before my eyes at camp. The campers that I had for all 6 weeks were much better behaved than those that were only there for 1-2 weeks, and that can certainly be an extension of the fact that I developed such significant relationships with them.

Furthermore, the importance of getting to know your students is not restricted to in-person classrooms. With the current rapid rise in technology, online classrooms are becoming more and more popular. Jodie Ginsbach (2015) has been an online educator for almost 7 years at an online public charter school for students in grades K-12. Here she discusses her initial worries about not being able to develop that relationship with her students in an online environment, and how easy it was to her surprise. She was able to establish a bond with her students in a virtual setting, and she was actually able to get more one-on-one interaction with her students in this setting than when she was in a traditional classroom.

The difference that a good relationship with your students can make would surprise you! Listen to Simon, try it!


Beassell, D. [Danny Brassell]. (2009, June 11). Motivational Speaker Danny Brassell: Getting to Know Your Students [Video file]. Retrieved from
Bingo [online image]. (2012). Retrieved from URL ( 
Drake, S. M., Reid, J.L. & Kolohon, W. (2014). Interweaving curriculum and classroom assessment: Engaging the 21st century learner. Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press.
Education World. (2012). The secret weapon: Getting to know your students [Web blog post]. Retrieved from 

Ginsbach, J. (2015, September 30). What’s it like to be an online teacher? [Web blog post]. Retrieved from


  1. Hey Miss Nicole,

    The media you use really enhance your blog. I really enjoyed the video because it gave me a deeper understanding of the importance of not only getting your students to open up to you but also the teacher opening up to the students. I definitely noticed this in a personal experience doing my co-op in high school and placement in university. The duration of my high school co-op was for an entire semester, everyday for a half day and our university placement was an entire semester but only one day a week. I noticed a difference in the way both classrooms behaved when I was there. Since my university placement was not on a constant basis the students’ did not build as strong of a relationship with me and like you said in your blog as a result did not respect me as much. Where as in my high school co-op because of the consistency, I was able to establish a stronger relationship with the students and I was seen as another educator in the classroom therefore they treated me with respect. Your blog really highlights the importance of bonding with our future students and ultimately forming a positive relationship with every student in our class. My question to you is, besides fun activities like the one you displayed in your blog, how else can we get to know our students? For your next blog try adding some more resources to really enhance your opinions and ideas! Awesome blog post!

    - Jennifer L

  2. Hi Miss Nicole,

    I love hearing about your experiences working at a literacy camp! I worked at summer camp with 4-5 year olds and I understand how important it is to create relationships with our students and know their interests and needs to modify our programs. I agree that relationships are important to show children and students that we care about them. Students need to know that they are important in the classroom and feel a sense of belonging. At my summer camp, every day in our morning circle we would go around and say things like what we did on the weekend or our favorite color or movie. However, I think it can sometimes be difficult to create close relationships with each of our students, especially if you have a large group of students and if some require a lot of support and attention. The link you posted from “Education World” mentioned how teachers should plan to take the time each day to talk to each student and it can be as simple as greeting them each morning. I think that they made a great point because by having an understanding of the lives of our students, we can better accommodate for them individually. For example, if a student was going through a difficult time at home and was not able to complete their homework, we would be sympathetic and provide extra time. My question for you is how can we get all students to open up to teachers, especially those who are shy or hesitant to share about themselves? Perhaps you could share some more strategies or resources on how teachers can get to know their students better. Great blog!

    - Breanna

  3. Dear Miss Nicole,

    Thank you for sharing your personal experiences; it really gives me a better understanding on the concept of “Getting to Know Your Students.” I can surely relate at camp when having campers for a shorter period of time versus a longer period makes the biggest difference. On the first day of camp, I always make sure to dedicate most of the day to strictly ice breakers as this gives a chance for campers and myself to get really know each other. I always found this extremely important and beneficial as this began to light the path towards knowing my campers and made it easier to converse and interact with them as they felt comfortable with opening up to me and expressing themselves. Building positive relationships with your students in the classroom goes much the same way. Giving students a chance to get to know you and vice versa will often lead to respect and better behaviour in the classroom. This in a sense comes with time, so as a future teacher having consistency and patience in getting to know your students is key. In my eyes, if children have respect for you they will not disappoint you. I like how you pointed out that by getting to know your students you also get to know their personalities and how they will interact with one another. A question that I pose here is how would having knowledge about the students in your classroom affect the possible decisions or outcomes in certain scenarios? What are the benefits? You have highlighted some significant points that I will surely keep in mind as a future educator, even emphasizing the importance in the digital world. Good choice of video display, it grasped the main idea of what getting to know your students would truly result in. One wish from me to you would be to share more ways of how exactly teachers “get to know their students” or examples of this. Overall excellent job, great use of resources and personal experiences!

    - Jessica L