Just before the COVID closures started, I had the privilege of traveling to Utah and working with teachers in Lindon and St. George. In Lindon, I was at the lovely Oak Canyon Junior High School, and during our day-long workshop on the five key beliefs (student motivation; creating optimal conditions for student learning) I met a band director named Clint Roberts. During the afternoon project-based component of the workshop, Clint went and created the following simple tool for keeping track of attendance, moments of genuine connection, and public speaking opportunities for his band students.
Here's Clint Roberts, Director of Bands at Oak Canyon Junior High School in Lindon, UT
I wanted to run with your concept of “Moments of Genuine Connection” tracking sheet but in context for band. At the beginning of the year I was cutting out student photos and scanning them to create a seating chart. It took forever but was worth it to put students' faces and names together. Now that I have those names and faces I'm going to use this website to generate my seating charts.
After printing the chart I put it into a clear sheet in my attendance binder that stays on my conductors music stand. I'm going to take roll with a red dry erase marker and erase it each day when it goes in the computer. I'll be using Blue and Green to mark which students have had certain opportunities in class. Blue dots will be students with whom I've had a Moment of Genuine Connection. Green dots will be students who have had an opportunity to conduct the band either in warm-ups or a song (public speaking).
I look forward to building positive credibility with each student as I focus on their learning and personal connections.
Why it'll work
Clint is going to see a performance from the consistent implementation of this tool. Here's why:
- As he practices moments of genuine connection with every student on his roster, he'll get better and he'll start to see the profound effects of “the dumbest intervention ever.”
- He'll begin to detect where his connection blindspots are — who are the students that he has the easiest time missing, week after week? Why? These questions will deepen him in his understanding of himself.
- He'll create a classroom where public speaking — in this case, conducting the band — is normal rather than weird. This normalization of what for many students is the scariest thing about school will make Clint's classroom an even more special place in the memories of his students.
And one more thing! Clint is going to succeed because he thought up this strategy while listening to a guy who's only ever taught 6-12 grade English language arts and history. Props to this kind of flexibility and openness — may we all gear ourselves likewise, learning from folks who teach in situations far different from our own.