Educators around the world have taken up a simple, high-leverage habit: moments of genuine connection. Armed with clipboards and simple class rosters, these folks try to engage each of their students in 30-90 second interactions. The goal is simple: communicate to the child that they are valued, known, and respected.
“Rubi, it’s good to see you today. How’s school going?”
“Dayquan, it’s Friday. How about a classic high five? Are you looking forward to the game tonight?”
“Isaac, awesome job at the start of today’s pop-up debate. Your voice was bold and clear; your point was sophisticated and multi-pronged.”
These moments can be about school or about life; they can focus on an accomplishment or a failure, a club or a class. They are more art than science — but the teacher, like a scientist, does record them on a clipboard so as to not forget any students.
The beauty of MGCs is manifold:
- It’s simple. We don’t need a spreadsheet. We don’t need a Master’s degree.
- It’s efficient. No more sacrificing of endless hours of prep time — hours that otherwise get pushed into the non-working parts of our lives.
- It’s motivating. These moments increase students’ sense that they belong in our classes and that we are credible teachers.
- It’s powerful. So much so, in fact, that some would say it’s quite dumb. If every educator in a building kept an MGC clipboard, that would be a building where every child felt known.
But here’s an honest question I’ve heard once or twice: what about when moments of genuine connection are…awkward?
Rubi looks at me like I’m an alien.
Dayquan leaves my high five hanging.
Isaac shifts his weight from foot to foot, uncomfortable to be singled out like this for a brief moment in the hallway.
If you’ve tried moments of genuine connection with your students and you teach middle or high schoolers, then I think you know what I’m talking about. It’s normal for them to be awkward sometimes. The solution for awkwardness is to chuckle and smile; when needed, end the conversation with a, “Well listen, I just want you to know that I appreciate getting to teach you. Have a good rest of your day.”
You’re not after a silver bullet, “works every time” experience with an MGC. It’s a moment of genuine connection — not a moment of perfect connection.
I’d rather be awkward in my attempts to connect with every child than to be safe as I avoid trying to connect with some of them.
Thank you to Ica Rewitz, whose question some time ago prompted this post. And thank you to David Reese, whose Classic Five Fridays have spread all the way up to Michigan.