There are many activities to choose from on the first day of school. One that is sure to develop strong classroom relationships is a student information sheet to help you get to know your students. By asking the right questions, you can learn how to best support your new students. A “get to know your students” questionnaire will also help your new students feel seen in your classroom.
This blog post will guide you through different types of questions to get to know your students on the first day of school. You can incorporate these questions into your student information sheet to learn about your new students. With the help of these questions, you can also develop a strong classroom community on day one!
What should I ask students on the first day of school?
There are a variety of questions you can ask students on the first day of school. Each type of question serves a different purpose, whether it be to evaluate academic concerns or get to know your students on a personal level.
In this blog post, we’ll explore five different categories for a “get to know your students” questionnaire. These categories include students’ identities, students’ families, academics and learning, extracurricular interests and responsibilities, and social-emotional learning question prompts. I will also provide you with a few important questions that you can ask to ensure that you address any important concerns raised by students.
Student identity questions to ask new students
At the start of the new school year, you likely have very little information about your students. To cover the basics, it’s best to start off by asking students about their identity. Student identity questions can help identify students by their name and student identification number, but they can also ask about their personal identity beyond official records.
Many students may go by a different name than the one listed on their student record. Acknowledging them by their chosen name or “nickname” can help you start off on the right foot with a student. Similarly, some students may prefer certain pronouns. While a 2SLGBTQIA+ student may not yet feel comfortable disclosing their identity to you, asking about pronouns can help them to identify you as an ally.
Another great question to ask students is about the languages that they speak. This can be helpful to identify English Language Learners in your classroom. Additionally, bilingual students can partner with English Language Learners of the same mother tongue for classroom projects and activities.
Get to know your students and their families
Including students’ families in your student information sheet is a great way to get a larger snapshot of each student. You can ask who students live with at home. Perhaps students live with siblings that you’ve met before (they could share different family names). While we all know that siblings are often very different from one another, it can build familiarity to share that you’ve taught a family member or have worked with them in some capacity.
It’s also important to ask students about the languages spoken by their parents and guardians. Communicating with parents as a teacher is much easier when you’re prepared to handle any language barriers.
Finally, parents also help support behavioral management in the classroom. This is another reason why you may want to foster parent-teacher relationships as soon as possible.
Questions to ask students about their learning
If you teach a particular subject, it can be helpful to evaluate students’ level of confidence in your subject area. As an English teacher, I always ask students whether or not they like to read. It’s also helpful for me to know what kind of books they are reading outside of the classroom.
Whether you teach a single subject or not, it is worthwhile to ask students about their areas of strength and weakness on your student information sheet. Knowing about their long-term academic goals and their post-secondary plans can also give you a better understanding of each student’s learning profile.
Finally, don’t overlook the importance of establishing relationships with the parents and guardians of ELL students – especially those who are newcomers to the country. Supporting migrant and refugee families is a key external factor to an ELL student’s success in school (Supporting Students with Refugee Backgrounds).
Get to know your students’ extra-curricular activities and responsibilities
As an educator, it is crucial to not only focus on academic achievements but also to understand the full scope of our students’ lives. By asking students about their extra-curricular activities and responsibilities, we gain valuable insights into their interests, passions, and commitments beyond the classroom.
If you teach older students, you may notice that some of them have a lot of responsibilities outside of school. Some families prioritize part-time jobs over academics, and others require that students take on a lot of responsibility at home. Acknowledging students’ outside responsibilities on your student information sheet fosters a sense of understanding. It also enables us to effectively manage expectations and provide the necessary support for their academic success.
Social-emotional learning questions to ask students
To foster a holistic approach to education, it’s important to include social-emotional learning (SEL) questions for our students. By understanding their emotions, thoughts, and interpersonal skills, we can better support their overall well-being and academic growth.
Fostering a growth mindset in your classroom begins on day one. You can ask students about their difficulties in school, or areas in which they wish to improve. To be more specific, you can ask them to tell you about a time in which they overcame a challenge at school. This can remind them of their own resilience, and give them an opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities to you.
Other social-emotional learning questions for your student information sheet can include conflict with peers and stress management. Evaluating strategies that students use to cope with challenging school situations can help you decide which soft skills to prioritize in your curriculum.
Important questions for your student information sheet
There are a few important questions to not forget about on your student information sheet. If your academic records do not already indicate allergies or health concerns, it is worthwhile to ask your students. Regardless of the official records, this is a question I always include to make sure I am up to date on the latest student information. It can also help me to better understand recurring student absences.
It’s also helpful to ask students open-ended questions. Ask them if there is anything that you can do as their teacher to help them learn. You can also ask them if there is anything that you may have missed on the “get to know your students” questionnaire. If there is something that they feel you should know, it’s great to be able to provide them with the opportunity.
Get to Know Your Students Questionnaires
Asking the right questions on the first day of school is a great way to foster a strong classroom community. “Get to know your student” questionnaires lay the foundation for building strong teacher-student relationships. They can also create an inclusive classroom environment and support student success.
By taking the time to ask about students’ interests, experiences, and aspirations, we demonstrate genuine care and interest in them. This not only helps us tailor our instruction to their needs, but also cultivates a sense of belonging and trust within the classroom.
To download an editable student information sheet with the types of questions explored in this blog post, click here.