On a serious note, I've learned that it's extremely important to know what's going on with your students--not just their likes and dislikes, but the more personal things that they may not want to share otherwise. I learned this the hard way a while back... I had a student who was often absent, and when she was at school, she rarely did her work. I knew that the child was more than capable based on assignments and assessments she had completed previously, so I was unsure of what was going on. I wasn't able to reach the parents and school officials didn't offer any insight into what might be the issue. Fortunately, after several months of this, I finally got word that the child had been living in, we'll just say, a nightmare (and that's putting it lightly). Had I known this sooner, I would've been much more empathetic. Not that I wasn't caring to begin with, but the student had been very disrespectful to me, so by April, I was at my whits end! I certainly don't ask the very personal questions in the survey. I make sure to word it something like, "Is there anything you would like me to know about you? Keep in mind, other students will not be seeing the surveys. It will be sent directly to me." Notice I didn't say that I won't share this w/ anyone, because by law, if a child tells a teacher something that may harm them, we are considered mandated reporters and have to inform the necessary individuals.
So how am I going to make process this more effective this year? I created a Digital Back to School Student Interest Survey on Google Forms. When students answer the questions on Google Forms, it saves automatically. Then their answers are also automatically put into a spreadsheet-- also saved on your Google Drive (see the steps below for exactly how to do this). How awesome is that?!?
Throughout the year, I can refer back to all of the info I have stored, and I can add to it if necessary. This year I also plan to have my students complete the same survey during the middle of the year. This will allow me to see if there have been any changes. Another plus is that you can modify the form if you need to make changes to questions or if you need to add new ones.
In order for students to complete these surveys, I will simply upload them to Google Classroom and add as an assignment. For directions on how to create and add assignments in Classroom, see my guest post on Erintegration where I explain this in detail. If you don't have Google Classroom, don't worry. You can easily upload to Edmodo or another program, you can post the link to the survey on your website, or you can email to your students...whatever works best for you!
How do you use the beginning of the year surveys? Tell me all about it in the comments.