Hey there, colleague! Continuing on with the mini-series we started yesterday, let me make a quick announcement and then we'll get to today's simple strategy.
Announcement/Request: If you're planning to register yourself or a group for next week's all-virtual PD day, can you let me know by this weekend? Enrollment is currently low and I want to get a rough headcount to determine if the event can move forward. Thank you! 🙏
Now — on to today's strategy.
Work the roster with thank you MGCs
What it is:
- Print out a fresh sheet of paper with all your students' names on it. (Here's a template I use.)
- Make it your goal to have a 30-60 second moment of genuine connection (MGC) with each student on that piece of paper.
- During the MGC, focus specifically on thanking the student for something you've appreciated about their presence in your class this year.
Why it's smart:
- It's excellent for your heart.
- It's hard in a good way — for students you've had a hard time with, you'll have to take some time or a walk just to try to figure out what to say to them about what you've appreciated. But what a wonderful exercise, colleague. Remember: the truth about “these kids these days” is that they are fearfully and wonderfully wrought.
- It's something that you can work on just before class, just after class, or during student independent work time.
- It'll teach you things.
- By the end, you will feel differently about teaching.
- By the end, at least one of them will find you a more credible teacher than they did before you started working the roster.
How to do it:
Since I kind of laid out how to do it with the three steps above, I'll end with a few examples from my practice. (As always, names and details were changed to protect student anonymity.)
- Miguel, I started smiling the other day when I was thinking about how you always want to know how systems work — scoring systems, assignments, GPA. You know, there was a time this year when this kind of drove me crazy about you. Funny, right? But look: I think it's something special about you, this mind that wants to know how things work. I think someday you will be a really great partner for someone because you're going to try to figure out how to protect what you value and be good at your job at the same time. Thanks for this year, Miguel. Best to you.
- (I start smiling just writing these. And that's what you want to do — just a few per day, so that your heart can kind of overflow into a smile while you do it.)
- Ibby, you've been through it this year, young lady! Wow. You've wrestled, haven't you? You've fought! There've been lots of times when you've told yourself — don't deny it, you said it right in front of me! — “I can't do this. I'm going to fail.” And Ibby, do you remember when we had that chat in the hall about viewing the rest of the year as can't-lose-just-play? You know what I started to see? A young person starting to believe that she belonged in this place and that her performance had nothing to do with her value as a person. So look — what I'm saying is, I appreciate you. I'm so glad we got this year together.
- Kendai, I've really loved our interactions during these past couple of months. Early in the school year, I don't think we quite knew what to make of each other. Or, let me just speak for me — I didn't know what to make of you! I didn't know if you were enjoying class, if you were feeling like it was valuable. But these last few months, I feel like we've connected — on some books we both like, on dry senses of humor, and the life of the mind. So look — don't be a stranger next year, hear? I appreciate you.
- Herbert, look — we've had our moments where you know you were driving me crazy. Let's face it, my man — you've got energy and you've got jokes. But I want you to know that there's been more than once that I've gone home smiling thinking about something you said in class that day. And most of all, Herb, I've so respected the way that you fought through that tough period you went through in the fall. The person I see in front of me today is a different, deeper, stronger person than the one I met last September. Thanks for letting me in on a bit of your life story, Herbert.
All right, colleague — you get the idea.
Now go have fun!