Each day during hybrid and remote learning, I have started my classes with a daily question as a way of taking attendance. It was something I overheard one of my daughter’s teachers doing one day, and I thought it seemed like a lot more fun that a simple roll call. Besides, it seemed like a good way to get to know the kids. It has turned out to be a great way to not only get to know our kids, but for our kids to get to know one another.
At first, it was easy to come up with questions.
What’s your favorite animal? What do you like to eat for dessert? Where do you like to go on vacations? How many pets do you have? What did you have for breakfast today?
Eventually, I began asking more obscure questions.
What’s a word that describes you that starts with the same letter as your name? If you could have any type of car, what would it be? Would you rather live in a mansion or live in a tiny home with an unlimited amount of money to spend on travel? If you were to go to McDonlald’s right now, what would you order?
Sometimes, I got desperate and asked boring questions.
Do you prefer to write with a pen or a pencil? What’s your favorite color? I even asked what the kids’ favorite type of pie was—twice.
Eventually, I felt like it was about time to get rid of the daily question. I told my co-teacher that we’d retire the idea of asking daily questions once we were back 100% face to face. “Oh, you can’t do that,” she told me. “I tried to skip in the other day when you were absent and the kids were very upset about it.”
Still, I was stumped for ideas. The daily question’s days were definitely numbered.
And then this week, I told my students in my first period class that I couldn’t come up with a question for the day. “I think I’m giving up,” I said.
Without missing a beat, a nearby student suggested a question. “Ask what everyone’s brand is,” he said.
I wasn’t sure if I exactly understood, but I asked the students, anyway. And, guess what, the students all knew what it meant. It turned out to be one of the more popular questions I’ve asked this year–the students were all eager to answer, and it was fun to hear what they had to say.
The next day , I asked the students if anyone had a question I could use. “What hybrid animal would everyone make?” a student enthusiastically suggested. So, I used that question. It went even better than the previous day’s question had gone.
So, the daily questions will continue. And now, everyone is happy. Especially me.