So many of us repeat over and over again, relationships first! We know and recognize that building relationships with our learners is the the foundation for our classroom. To build a community that oozes empathy, weaves in interest and passion, and overall is personalized to the learners in our room, I feel we MUST take time to get to know our learners, FIRST.
I focus on building relationships, getting to know my learners and their families for a large portion of the beginning of the year. Not only does it help my build trust and compassion in our community, but it also allows me to get to know my learners. In an inquiry based classroom, my role as the Inquiry Teacher is to know my students. Without knowing what makes them tick, what excites them and about their strengths, it makes tailoring our learning to their interests challenging.
Here are a couple of my favourite ways go GET TO KNOW MY LEARNERS in a classroom setting.
1. I spend time working on, provoking and having my learners consider what it means to be passionate. This provokes conversation and a focus surrounding OUR PASSIONS, and what we LOVE. Find more books for working on passion with your learners here. A book I love to use to begin this discussion is ‘I Like Myself’ by Karen Beaumontis. We read through this book, and then brainstorm things we like about ourselves, this then leads us into discussions about things we LOVE to do. This is a great beginning way to dive into ourselves and our likes and dislikes. Once we’ve read, discussed and brainstormed I usually scribe our passions and put it up in the room. These stay up there all year, they may be added to.. there are a ton of possible extensions here! I feel that is important for them to be plastered up on the wall, so that visitors immediately see who we are and what we’re about! It’s also a great way begin to co-create and design our learning environment.
2. Our DNA (Dreams, Needs + Abilities) is an activity that I added in this year to getting to know my learners. The DNA focus came from Mrs. Mac’s Kindergarten blog. I loved her idea so much, I just had to implement it with my learners. We read a picture book as a provocation for each focus and then brainstormed and shared out our connection to each section. These were three different lessons. We used ‘Be Brave Little One’ by Marianne R. Richmond to focus on our DREAMS. We had ‘Have you Filled a Bucket Today?’ by Carol McCloud, to guide our thinking on what others need and what we need to be successful and feel positive in our days, for the NEEDS focus. Then we used ‘What’s my Superpower?’ by Aviaq Johnston to focus on our abilities.
After these lessons and reflections, we created some art to represent our DNA. We did a watercolour choice background, a YELLING photograph and then I typed up their DNA on three separate lines. Some children also spent time reflecting on words that represent them or words they like or have connections to, and we found them in the dictionary and added them to their backgrounds. They loved this art activity!
These activities have really helped me get to know my learners and also for them to begin to reflect on who they are. Once our learners are in touch with who they are, we can begin to build on their knowledge, weave in their passions, and have them share about what’s important to them. We do a lot of storytelling and story studio in our classroom, and getting to know ourselves is a great spring board into sharing our stories.
I would love to hear some of your favourite getting to know you activities, and how you incorporate them into your classroom. Please share with us below or share to our #InquiryMindset online community.