Where Do You Belong?

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The first day of school…especially middle school…is one filled with excitement and dread wrapped up in one. I think most students approach the first day of school with the question of where do they fit in among their peers? In other words, where do they “belong”? And to be honest, it’s something they will likely revisit over and over and over again. I mean, adolescence and puberty. ‘Nuff said.

What I was thinking about today is how can I get to know my students beyond what they want to show me (and their peers)? I’ve thought about giving students a getting to know you survey on the first day of school, but for some reason, I haven’t taken that step. Until now.

This summer as I contemplated how I can shore up my skills regarding culturally responsive teaching practices, two areas come to mind: developing a cultural diversity knowledge base and cultural congruity in classroom instruction (Gay, 2002). I believe having students fill out a survey during the first couple of days of school is one way that I can get the background information I need to design a learning environment that supports the diverse needs of my students.

The Google form survey that I plan to use is called Tell Me About You. It’s a bit on the lengthy side so I may break that up into two different surveys so that it’s not too taxing on my kiddoes. I’m also thinking about sending a note home to parents/guardians to ask them how I can support their child in my class. However, since many of the families speak a different language other than English that might pose a problem in getting responses from them. I need to think this second part through a bit more.

But I think the Tell Me About You survey is a good place to begin the process of not only getting to know my students, but also getting to know about their strengths, concerns, dreams, etc. Perhaps using this as a starting point for a discussion between peers might be a way to help them develop a sense of community as well. I haven’t incorporated Bingo as a getting to know you scavenger hunt in many years, but maybe this year I will resurrect that activity.

So many ideas…


Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53, 106–116. doi:10.1177/0022487102053002003



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