Getting to know your pupils

Meeting new pupils and understanding their ways is another challenge as term starts. Lorraine Rotchford outlines her "blueprint" for getting to know your pupils during that all important first week.

Start as you mean to go on

Introduce yourself to the children and be positive, confident and firm. Remember you're in control. Don't hesitate to address any inappropriate behaviour from the word go.

Never use volume over reason

If you start to teach in a loud voice you've got nowhere left to go when you need to catch someone's attention. The quiet voice of reason often wins over the sharp shout, meaning less strain for you too.

Decide on a seating plan

Make sure you take advice from other colleagues on how best to maximise class dynamics. Bringing all the trouble makers in the class to the front doesn't always work. Pupils who need constant reassurance, have short concentration spans or a tendency to wander also need to be kept close.

Learn everyone's names

Go round the class and have the children tell you their names. Have them make and decorate name cards for their desks. Bet the class you'll remember all their names by the end of the day! They'll be impressed if you do!

Find out about your pupils

I had the children complete six boxes on a sheet of A4 paper with drawings and short sentences on:

  • who they lived with at home
  • pets they had or would like to have
  • who their friends were
  • games/hobbies they enjoyed
  • their favourite meal
  • what they did during the summer holidays

Each pupil talked through their piece and the work was pinned to the "About P4" display. The exercise will give you a feel for the writing and talking skills of your pupils and offer an insight into what they like. Remember, you have to do an "About Me" piece too!

Create a class "Learning Charter"

Organise group discussions on how the children think they can be successful learners in the classroom. The output should constitute your children's "Learning Charter". My class agreed on 10 key points,such as "If I want to ask a question I raise my hand". One pupil from each group wrote out two of the points on a sheet of A3 paper. It was signed by all the pupils, laminated and displayed on the wall. It's often referred to by me and the pupils!

Be polite

Remember to say good afternoon and thank you to the children.

Lorraine Rotchford
St Clements Primary, Dundee