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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 17, Number 7, May/June 2005

Teachers' tips: Reaching every child

by Rob Taylor

As class sizes increase and your workload grows, you may feel that you are losing touch with the students who are generally pretty quiet and don’t get in your face. If you realize you haven’t been making personal contact with your students, here are some simple ideas that might alleviate that fear.

For the good of the class: Start your morning by acknowledging and having the students acknowledge the accomplishments of class members, whether it be for winning a hockey game, playing at a music festival, or cleaning up the environment around the school. Keep track of who is acknowledged, and make sure everyone gets honoured. Once a week is do-able.

The magic box: Use a magic box with the students’ names on bingo chips to choose who will answer a question. Whenever you are in a question/answer situation, draw names from the box rather than call on students who have raised their hands. That way everyone gets called on, and students learn not to call out the answers.

Take time to celebrate: Celebrate students’ events with the class—birthdays, special family events, anniversaries, and so on.

Pay attention to moods: Often the whole class will behave in a certain manner when one student is upset or angry. Sometimes the mood can be altered when the cause is found and the solution determined together.

Listen: Seems simple, doesn’t it? Often the busyness of the job takes over our ability to listen when a student has something to say.

Wait: Give students time to answer a question or formulate a thought. Hold back, don’t fill the silent void with your voice.

Enjoy: Sit back and enjoy something a student has done, whether it be a funny moment or a story that strikes your fancy or a quiet time. Enjoy them all.

Be a person: A big part of getting to students is to show them that you’re a human being too and that you have your own stories to tell and your own moods and your own life beyond the classroom door.

Rob Taylor teaches at Nesika Elementary School, Williams Lake.

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