How well do you know your children?
At the start of term, not very well at all unless you know children via their siblings and ‘reputations’.
When we start a new term there is a feeling that you need to get down to business immediately and make up for the summer learning loss.
But sometimes the curriculum can wait. We’ve got to get to know children and what’s going on in their lives.
One of the simplest ways of doing this is by spending time with them at lunch and sharing a meal together. You get to see them in a different context and their behaviour is often quite different.
Another way is to ask them a simple question. This is what Kyle Schwartz did one day when she asked children to fill in the blank in the following sentence:
This was like opening the floodgates and what Kyle got back astounded her. Children disclosed all manner of things, some funny and light-hearted and some just heartbreaking. It was at this point that she realised she didn’t know her children that well and they all had something to say.
This beautifully simple question amplifies children’s voices and gives them an opportunity to share something that might otherwise be hidden away and never be heard.
Children crave connection and sometimes they just need the chance to say what’s on their mind without necessarily verbalising it – sometimes writing it down is a safer way of saying it. We can overlook and forget just how complex children’s lives are.
“I wish my teacher knew________________” gives teachers unique and powerful insights and the very real opportunity to build high tensile relationships.
You can extend this idea further and use it for staff training so that senior leaders can get to know their staff more by asking “I wish my head teacher knew_____________.”