One of the best ways to get to know a new class of students is by providing them with a quick student survey that gathers essential information. On the first day of school, I always provide my high school students with this free student survey that contains essential information that helps me not only get to know my students but also be the best teacher I can be for them.
One of my newer additions to this survey is a section on pronouns and how, when, and with whom I can use the student’s pronouns. Providing this simple space for students to express themself and their identity is so crucial for creating a safe space and building a positive classroom culture. According to the National Survey on LGBTQ Mental Health 2020 by The Trevor Project, 48% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in some form of self-harm in the last 12 months, and that statistic drastically rose to more than 60% for trans and nonbinary youth. By simply including this simple question to the survey and providing our students with the space to be themselves, we can help save student lives.
Other important questions in this survey include questions about who lives with the student and what their favorite accomplishment is. I’ve found that by including these questions in the survey and knowing this information about my students, I can form stronger bonds with them to help create a strong classroom community.
Once my students complete the survey, I collect them and keep the surveys stored in a binder all year long. I organize my binder by class period, and then each class period is organized alphabetically. If I ever need to conference with a student or call home, I look at their survey first.
If you are looking for more back-to-school resources and activities, read this post about engaging back-to-school activities for the secondary ELA classroom.