How Well Do You Know Your Pupils?

Last week marked an important day in the academic calendar. Thousands of schools across the UK opened their doors to welcome the new school year, which hopes to be filled with high quality learning and academic success. 

The start of a school year is cause for everything new, and we aren’t just talking about the classroom décor! As a teacher you are trying to make a great first impression, understanding school culture and most importantly building that initial connection with your students. It’s a crucial time for teacher-pupil relationships to blossom and we must ask ourselves, what are we doing to get to know our pupils? 

What are teachers doing to lay the foundations for a positive relationship and how will they develop the qualities needed to flourish in our society? The current Ofsted guidelines place a focus on personal development, advising teachers to develop pupils’ character and instil a growth mindset.

Getting to know a pupil extends beyond their name and target grade. Explore our tips below to gain a deeper understanding of your pupils:

1) Greet your pupils 

A quick hello will go a long way. Make sure to acknowledge each individual before they set foot in the classroom. Classroom management is key, and this is a no-brainer to add to your lesson plans. Set the scene for a fantastic lesson and grab the attention of your class before the bell rings! 

2) Pop your head into their other classes 

Have you ever thought to join another class? This may seem daunting on top of everything else on your to-do list but observing your pupil interactions without teaching can prove to be valuable. Pupils’ motivation and positive attitudes to learning are important predictors of attainment. Get to know your pupils as people. What makes them tick?

3) Change your classroom set up 

Whilst schools have developed with technology and pedagogy, there has been little change in desk arrangement. Consider whether it’s time to replace your seating plans and move those rows to form a U-shape around you. It’s astonishing to see what a switch in furniture can do for communication in class. You should be at the centre of your learning environment and at this rate you’ll get to know your pupils in no time! 

4) Let them help you

On those early mornings when you find yourself briskly preparing for your day, half a dozen pupils are lingering in the corridor… oh so eager to get into class! Why not invite them in and let them help? A positive school culture is where staff know and care about their students, this interaction helps you to get to know more about the people you spend most of your time with. 

5) Put aside five minutes in a lesson 

It’s a fact that if you are reading this, you are more than likely time poor. Developing empathetic relationships with your pupils will take time. Can you incorporate five minutes within your lessons to get to know your students with a free-flowing conversation? If viable, you could try to book-end each lesson with conversation topics that show you are taking an interest in them. Get to know their favourite sport or hobbies, find other ways to communicate and express an interest in their likes and dislikes. Developing a friendly relationship with your students can impact positively on learning outcomes, attitude and behaviour.

6) Express interest in their wellbeing 

It’s important to support your students’ wellbeing, but how do we do this with everything else we have to remember? NAHT explain that mental health plays a fundamental role in children’s success and poor mental health is a significant barrier to learning. Why not try a ‘tea and talk’ group? You could offer cake and a safe place to chat or host a quiz with teachers vs students.  

Find other ways to create a nurturing space for young people in our blog Promoting mental wellbeing to young people.  

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