“What’s the new kid in Year 9 like?” I asked Mr Jones* the Maths teacher.
“He’s terrible at maths, he’s definitely not too bright,” Jonesy assured me.
Whilst this is purely anecdotal and certainly not a universal approach to describing students, it is fairly common in my experience. I have asked what the child is like, and I’ve been told what the student is like, and even then, it is a huge (and most likely inaccurate) generalisation of a kid’s intellect.
I find a lot of teachers describe the children in their class by their behaviour or ability rather than their character. Clearly this is the nature of the beast. If you are a teacher on a full load timetable, with thirty-odd kids per class, getting to know them is going to take a considerable amount of time if it is left up to individual teachers to each ascertain this insight of all their students. What is needed is a concerted effort by the staff as a whole to engage with the kids identities and passions and then share this amongst the faculty. Imagine the potential for your lessons if you knew what made your students tick; if you knew what they were passionate about and you worked that into your curriculum.
Instead of classes being streamed by “ability”, why not trial streaming your classes by passions, or character strengths? Then classes being taught by teachers with the same interests/passions etc…
I reckon I might get a more satisfying answer to my original question even if we only did this for one day.