This week I was working on our Letters to Santa with my children. It made me reminisce about some of the popular toys of my youth. My favorite toy growing up in the 80’s was the line of G.I. Joe action figures and accessories. I would sit for hours on end playing with the action figures, vehicles and command headquarters, when I wasn’t watching the accompanying afternoon cartoon.
My favorite thing about the toys though was actually getting to pick one out at the store. The marketing geniuses at Hasbro designed the packaging with seven-year-old me in mind. On the back of each action figure package was a file card. The file card would detail important information about the character: code name, rank, background info about special skills, and a quote detailing the character’s essence. I would pore over each one in the store to decide which action figure to purchase, and once I picked out my favorite, I would recite the card to my mom so that she wouldn’t change her mind about buying it for me.
The cards detailed all the important information I needed to know about each action hero. With my religious watching of the GI Joe cartoon, I was able to tell anyone who asked about each character.
As an educator, I wish that there was a file card on each student, one that provided all of the relevant information needed to ensure that he or she was met with all of the necessary supports. Yes, within each student’s file, we can find clues that may help us, but there is always so much to be learned about each student that is not detailed in the file. While it would be great to have a file card for each student, we must still do work to learn about each student.
In the absence of these file cards on each student, it is our responsibility as educators to get to know our students.
Find out everything that you can.
Do your research. Ask questions.
What makes them tick?
Likes? Dislikes? Strengths? Weaknesses? Passions?
Talk to former teachers, but reserve the right to get to know the student yourself. Make up your own mind based on your own research.
Find out exactly what you need to in order to reach a student.
That is what matters most. Get to know the student so that you can help them.
Knowing is half the battle.