Getting To Know Your Students

Expert teacher, Dawn Parrish, shares her passion for making connections and building relationships, offering ideas and advice for getting to know your students at the beginning of the school year.

Go beyond the simple icebreakers and getting to know you activities with these tips for creating a sense of belonging and a supportive classroom environment.

+ show tags

Teacher greeting and getting to know students

Why Is It Important To Get To Know Your Students?

Teaching, for most educators, goes beyond simply imparting knowledge. It involves creating an environment that nurtures students' comfort, growth, and enthusiasm for learning. Establishing a strong bond between teacher and student enhances the learning journey and cultivates a lifelong passion for knowledge. This connection also contributes to students' mental well-being, offering them a sense of belonging and support. 

Building Relationships Encourages Student Engagement

Forging a relationship with students provides valuable insights into their lives, experiences, and interests. This knowledge empowers teachers to personalize their instruction, making the learning experience more relevant and captivating. By tapping into students' interests, educators can create a meaningful learning environment that deeply resonates with them.

Building Relationships Supports Academic Progress

An additional advantage of connecting with students is the ability to address any challenges or issues that may hinder their academic progress or overall well-being. Through a solid teacher-student relationship, educators are better equipped to identify and tackle obstacles that might affect students' learning. These challenges could include learning disabilities, mental health concerns, or personal difficulties that influence their academic performance. 

Building Relationships Creates An Inclusive Classroom Community

Establishing a special space of exploration and safety creates opportunities for students to feel empowered to ask questions and pursue knowledge. By earning their trust, I believe this exploration can be genuine and impactful. By taking the time to genuinely know our students, we demonstrate that we value them as individuals, not merely as learners in a classroom. By prioritizing the establishment of connections with our students, we create a more meaningful and influential learning experience. 

Top 5 “Get To Know You” Strategies For Teachers

Let’s dive into a few strategies that can be utilized to build that important connection with your students. If you can reach students on a personal level and create a love of learning within them, they will be unstoppable - not just today - but also tomorrow.

#1 Setting Up For Success 

The start of the academic year holds great importance for teachers and can be one of the most demanding periods. During this time, educators must undertake various tasks, including classroom and lesson preparation, familiarizing themselves with a new set of students, establishing rules and routines, and preparing for parent-teacher conferences. 

The effort put into a strong “Back to School” experience goes a long way toward setting the tone for the rest of the school year. Creating the perfect space, personalizing the conversation, and making time for talking are great ways to get off on the right track. 

#2 Game It Up 

Incorporating icebreakers and games into classroom activities is a valuable method for teachers to gain insight into their students' personalities while fostering a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere. These activities are especially beneficial at the start of the school year when students are in the process of acquainting themselves with one another and may feel apprehensive about sharing in front of unfamiliar faces. 

Would You Rather and Two Truths And a Lie are great icebreakers to use with any grade level. 

#3 Routines 

Creating daily routines is a crucial element in developing enduring bonds with students. Consistency and structure establish a foundation of stability and reassurance, contributing to heightened engagement and improved learning results. 

Daily routines offer teachers valuable chances to connect with students on a personal level. For instance, conducting a morning check-in where students share aspects of their lives enables teachers to gain insights into their interests, experiences, and aspirations. This knowledge can be utilized to customize lessons and activities according to individual students' interests, thereby enhancing their engagement and motivation. 

Personalized greetings and daily check-ins are great routines to maximize the time you have with students. 

#4 Welcoming New Students 

As educators, we are well aware that it is not unusual to welcome new students into our classrooms throughout the school year. While we make efforts to help these students adjust to the school and its processes swiftly, it is equally vital to ensure that they feel embraced and fully integrated into the learning community. 

#5 Room For Change

We must acknowledge the importance of continuously reflecting on and evaluating the strategies we employ to establish connections with our students. While it is crucial to establish routines and practices at the start of the year, it is equally vital to remain adaptable and flexible as the needs of our students evolve. 

As the classroom dynamics shift throughout the year, it is essential for us to stay attuned to the needs of our students and modify our strategies accordingly. What may have proven effective at the beginning of the year may not yield the same results mid-year or toward the end, and it falls upon us as teachers to remain observant and make the necessary adaptations.

Furthermore, it is important to recognize that our students are continually growing and changing as individuals. Consequently, it is vital for us to maintain an open mindset, continuously learn more about our students, and adjust our approach to better address their needs. By prioritizing our relationship with students and being willing to adapt our strategies, we can create a more meaningful and impactful learning experience for all.

Final Thoughts on Getting To Know Your Students

Similar to how a solid home relies on a sturdy foundation, quality education is also built upon the teacher-student connection. By fostering a strong and positive relationship with students, educators can establish trust, encourage engagement, and enhance academic performance. 

Prioritize Connections To Support Academic Achievement

Teachers who prioritize building connections create a safe and inclusive learning environment where students feel at ease expressing themselves, sharing ideas, and taking academic risks. This environment fosters active participation in education, leading to greater success in academics. 

When teachers establish a connection with students, they gain a deeper understanding of their unique strengths, challenges, and learning styles. This understanding enables teachers to customize their teaching methods and strategies to meet the individual needs of each student, further improving their academic achievement.

Help Students Build Important Life Skills

Students who feel valued and supported by their teachers tend to have higher self-esteem, improved social skills, and stronger interpersonal relationships. These skills are crucial not only for classroom success but also for overall success in life. 

When teachers connect with their students, they can serve as positive role models and mentors. They can guide students in developing vital life skills such as problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking. This mentorship provides students with the necessary guidance and support to pursue their goals and aspirations. 

When you invest in the connection with a student, you’re investing in more than just their education.


Find out more in Dawn’s on-demand webinar on getting to know your students. Her in-depth talk includes advice and strategies for learning more about your students to create a supportive learning environment, increase student engagement, and build meaningful relationships from the first week of school and beyond.


loading gif