At the beginning of the year, do you check with other teachers to get their perspectives on your class list? I think this is a universal practice that we’ve been doing as far back as I remember.
But are we getting the most value from other teachers’ perspectives? What questions do we ask?
Do you ask….
What do you know about this kid? This question will invite teachers to share their opinions (both positive and negative) about that student. Some teachers may also offer details about the student’s life – family story, personal challenges – that could border on gossip. For example….
- “Oh, you have Nancy. You’ll love her! She always complimented me on my outfits and bulletin boards.”
- “Stacia gets bored easily, even if your topic is really interesting.”
- “Tyrone is a problem. He never meets his responsibilities.”
- “Juan’s parents don’t speak English and don’t care about his education. They never show up here.”
These details may prejudice your view of those students. Seriously! Were any of those perspectives really helpful? Isn’t it your dearest hope that some students will have their best year ever with YOU? If that’s true, they may have struggled in the past. So what? The past is over. Time for a fresh start.
But what if you asked …
What has worked with this kid? This question prompts teachers to share strategies and approaches that have worked in the past.
- “Carlos is amazing at creating graphic organizers. Let him draw them on the board. It help everyone & keeps him focused.”
- “Lyndel flourishes with proximity control. Make sure a teacher or positive peer role model is close to her.”
- “Alexis needs to repeat instructions. I set it up so she could repeat to her partner (or to the whole class); it made such a difference in her on-task behavior!”
- “Ryan is a leader. If you don’t give him a position of positive influence, he’ll find another way to lead that might not be productive for him or the class. “
Now these nuggets are gold! They will save you time and energy. You can skip some trial and error and use methods that work. Why not benefit from what other teachers have learned?
If school has been in session for a few weeks, it’s not too late to ask other teachers for their perspectives. Just be sure to ask the right question!