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  • Writer's pictureJames Kieft

Ideas for getting to know your new students

We all know the importance of getting to know our students, ideally we start this process ahead of them starting on the course with us. In my experience that time spent getting to know the students helps to ensure they are on the correct course and makes it more likely they will attend the course when it starts for real in September.

Typically this will be done via a couple of taster events where the students come into college spend some time familiarising themselves with their surroundings, getting to know their peers and their tutor and the sorts of things that will be covered during their class.

However in these unusual times this hasn’t been possible for all colleges so we need to find other ways in which we can get to know our students and get them for me with us so in this post I thought I explore some things we can do to get to know our students ahead of them joining us in September.

One of things I think is really useful is knowing what students' ambitions are, what their interests and hobbies are and what they are considering doing next after this current phase of their education.

This could be in the form of a letter to their future self in which they set out their hopes and ambitions detailing what it is they are wanting to achieve. This could also include whether they are considering going to University or doing an apprenticeship or getting a job.

This is a great way to help you to tap in and find ways to motivate and encourage them as they progress through the course, you can also get them to revisit later in the course so they can see how far they have come.

In place of capturing it in the form of a letter you could ask them to write a blog post or record a vlog. Or it could be more of a visual thing where they create an infographic identifying their ambitions and goals.

They don’t have to use fancy software to create an infographic; they could do it in PowerPoint or Google slides. Here is my video guide to creating an infographic in PowerPoint.

Another way to get to know your students is to get them to introduce themselves and say something about themselves and something that drives or inspires them. This could be done via Padlet wall. As this is meant to be a two way process of them getting to know you as well you getting to know them. I think it is important for you to contribute as well. It also helps to encourage participation.

With the popularity of TikTok, you may consider getting them to record a short video as a way of introducing themselves. Flipgrid is great at this, it is easy to set up and students can choose to appear in the video or use the whiteboard feature with a voice over. As the teacher you can alter the setting to choose if they can comment on their peers videos.

Here is my video guide on how to set up a Flipgrid activity

I think it is useful to know how long a journey your students have to get to college, It is also

to know what means of transport they are using to travel to college. Are they riding a bike or do they get a lift or are they using public transport in the form of a bus or train ride.

There are various ways to do this including creating a survey, but I think it is more fun to create an interactive map that indicates roughly where they are traveling from, they don't need to give a precise location and by what means of transport they are using.

This could be to get a picture of the catchment area of your course, be aware of potential issues if there is travel disruption, it would also allow you to highlight if there are discounted travel schemes that could be relevant to them.

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