being a student, being a teacher, building community, new year, student choice, student voice

Getting to Know Our Students Survey

Every year, I do several surveys at the beginning of the year, I don’t think I am the only one.  As we try to get to know these kids that have come into our lives, I think it is so important to gather as much information as they are willing to tell us in order for us to be better teachers for them.  But I also think about how hard it can be to answer questions those first few days of school when you don’t really know what your answers will be used for, when you are not quite sure who this person is who is asking you these questions, when you are perhaps not even sure what the questions mean.

So this year, I am changing my approach a little bit.  The questions have been changed to be more of a progression of trust, not because I am under any impression that from Tuesday to Friday the students will trust me, but because I want to honor the relationships we are building and the fact that they take time.  Students will be asked to answer a few questions every day, but can also choose to speak to me about these things.  They are focused more specifically on what the child needs from me potentially to be successful and not so much on academics.  Students will do a separate survey every day, while not ideal, it will allow me to see their answers as the week progresses and then create one answer froup per student at the end of the week.

Along with these questions, I will also give my reading and writing surveys during that first week.  Those will be on paper as I place them in my conferring binder alongside the notes I take during our conversations.

Before the children have shown up, we will also have asked those at home about them.  We want to reach out to parents and caregivers as experts on their children and honor the knowledge they have through a home survey.  It is sent electronically before school starts and I respond to each person that takes it with follow up questions, those who do not have access to email or choose not to take it online are handed a paper version once school starts.

While the first-week surveys are not done, I am sharing here in order to receive feedback.  What have I missed?  What have I misworded?  What would you add or remove?  You are more than welcome to make a copy and make it fit your students, just please give credit.  To see the surveys, please see here:

Tuesday – Go here

Wednesday – Go here

Thursday – Go here

Friday – Go here

Thank you to those who have already helped me make it better, here are all of the questions together.

If you like what you read here, consider reading my newest book, Passionate Readers – The Art of Reaching and Engaging Every Child.  This book focuses on the five keys we can implement into any reading community to strengthen student reading experiences, even within the 45 minute English block.  If you are looking for solutions and ideas for how to re-engage all of your students consider reading my very first book  Passionate Learners – How to Engage and Empower Your Students.      Also, if you are wondering where I will be in the coming year or would like to have me speak, please see this page.

15 thoughts on “Getting to Know Our Students Survey”

  1. What kind of questions do you ask your parents? And have you talked about that before in a prior post? Your surveys and questions have been so valuable in my classroom with my students.

  2. What kind of questions do you ask your parents? And have you talked about that before in a prior post? Your surveys and questions have been so valuable in my classroom with my students.

  3. Really like your survey. I hope you pass it by your principal, too, because if parents object to any of these questions, he or she will most likely be the first to whom the parent will complain. For example, if you get a song title with inappropriate gang or sexual content you may have to address that with the parent or child (“You played everyone else’s but not his or hers!” You’re discriminating!”) Also, not all parents will appreciate your politically correct gender questions and if students mark “I don’t understand this question,” parents might not want you to explain it. As a retired administrator, I have heard every complaint under the sun when teachers are just trying to do good things with good motives. I always liked it when I could be prepared rather than surprised.

  4. Can I please get a copy of your parent survey AND your reading writing survey the kids complete on paper?
    Thank you!

  5. In your writing question it says read, not write, all the time. Otherwise it looks great! (except the pronouns, which someone above addressed.) I’m sharing this with my co-teachers. Hopefully we can do the same.

  6. I love your surveys. I am teaching 4th grade this year. I think it is the first year I’ll have students who can read and write from the first day!

    One correction…on your scale for writing, it says, “incredible, I wish I could READ all the time.”

    Thanks for sharing.

  7. Your work has been so inspirational, and I appreciate that you take the time to share your insights and experiences!

    On the Tuesday survey, where it mentions how many years the student has attended your school, the pronoun answers appear rather than numbers. It appears correctly on this page, but when you click the Tuesday link, it includes the pronouns.

  8. Thank you, Pernille for following through with your promise to blog about the topic and collect all the great questions from the teachers who gave you feedback on Twitter! I look forward to incorporating some of this within my own classes this year and I already feel confident that I’ll have a better understanding of my students that I can act on to better shape their learning experiences.

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