23 Comments

  1. Cynthia Walker

    As educators we are in the school system for the students. For years teachers were misdirected and believed their autonomy was theirs for self gradification. Now states have accountability systems I’m place to assess if the students needs are being individually met.

  2. This article is spot on! Asking kids is the missing link when we analyze data. Even when considering the whole child, do we ever just ask them? Dr Jetter and I have spent 3 years asking these very questions through action research and the outcome is life changing. Kids are our greatest stakeholder and should have a voice in the decisions that we make as adults to try and solve their academic and social-emotional challenges. Let’s make a commitment to just ask them! #storiesftp

  3. Bluma Drebin

    I think this is a great exercise to have teachers participate in, themselves, during their own orientation days. Can be very eye opening for leadership and for the teachers prior to them posing these questions to their students.

  4. George’s questions are key to building relationships #justaskthem. I would share Noa Daniel’s questions from her Personal Playlist Podcast because kids are so connected to music. Check out Noa’s Building Outside the Blocks blog here: https://noadaniel7.wixsite.com/bobblog/single-post/2017/07/21/Keep-on-Moving-A-Lifes-Mission-and-Part-of-Shawn-Clarks-P3
    Where I got to be her guest and experience her questions first hand. Responding to her questions using songs was truly meaningful for both me and her. You can learn a lot about a person by their music. Right, George (lover of cheesy boy bands from the ’90s)?!

  5. Keely Lewis

    I read the article and I am planning for my first week of grade 6 with my new students…I love the Minds On focus and I am going to send these questions home the first week for my parents to fill out as well…This should lead to some interesting conversations as I meet all of the parents in the first couple of weeks of school.

  6. He mentions that these five are not THE questions, so what are those if these aren’t them then why is he presenting them instead of THE ones?

    • George

      Hey Karen…I am assuming the “he” you are talking about is me. At different grade levels or subject areas, these questions could definitely be modified. Context matters as well. I do not think there is anything that is absolute that works in every single context of education. I hope people take these questions and adjust them to work for their class, not think that I believe these are THE absolute questions for any and every situation.

      Nothing to hide Karen. Just want to share ideas with others that I hope they will take and modify to fit the needs of their students. As I hope you have seen in the post, I am more about understanding YOUR students before anything else.

  7. George
    I would sometimes have my students write down what they would like to accomplish in the coming year or what they might want to do differently from what they had done in the past. I asked them to be reasonable and realistic. I told them I was going to keep those and return them at the end of the year with their own signatures and maybe we would review them halfway through the year to see how they were doing. They loved it, in their own voices.

  8. I love your questions, George, and plan to use them in my beginning of semester survey that I ask my pre-service teachers (first or second year college students).

    In response to your request (“what questions you would suggest to start off the year with your students and why it is important”), one of the questions I ask my students is, “What would you like me to know about you so that I can better understand you and support your learning in our course?” This is important to me to know because I realize that students have complex lives and face many challenges that affect their learning. Additionally, they bring many strengths that may go unrecognized (which you get at with your question “What are your strengths and how can we utilize them?”. If I know about these up front, I can work with students to help them find ways to be successful, building on their strengths and finding ways to work around (or through) challenges.

  9. Very important questions to provide students with a road map through their learning journey. According to Stephen R. Covey, one of the eighth habits of highly effective people is “Keep the end in mind”. Thus, asking the questions of above mentioned sort will be a strategy for students to keep the the end in mind in the beginning of the year.

  10. Darla Clark

    I quite agree with all of these questions for the beginning of the school year. I really like this quote by Jamie Casap states, “Don’t ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. Ask them what problem they want to solve.” This year we will be implementing CTF at our school for grades 5 and 6 and this would be something wonderful to ask them. Many times we just put careers in front of them and expect them to fit into a category but with CTF it allows them to build on their passions and find what they want to be when they grow up.
    I also think that something that should be talked about as well is having “webs of support” that Derek Peterson talks about. This is something that will enable students to have support and grow.

  11. Marie Bare

    Hi George.
    I will be using these questions. Thank you.
    Question: What is the online journal site you recommend using so students can read each other’s writing and respond?
    I would like to begin using this with my second graders. Thank you.

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