Saturday, October 13, 2012

The First Five Minutes #EdChat #EdcampSWO

I've been paying close attention to my time management this year. I was curious how I used my time at the start and end of class. I want to be as efficient as possible and those times of a class period could run smoother.

I found something very interesting after looking at my classes for about 6 weeks. The first five minutes set the tone for the entire class. Here is what I'm talking about.

One approach had me jumping into the material the second the bell rang. I started rattling off the things we were going to cover for the day and all of the stuff they needed to have out and ready to go. I also would take attendance during this time. I was always amazed at how chatty all of the kids were and how many of them were not quite ready to go when I was.

I was very annoyed that my students couldn't get their crap together and be ready to go when I wanted them. I wanted to know what the problem was. I went to one of many meetings that teachers go to and I was just struck by something. What meetings start exactly on time discussing the business at hand? The first five minutes or so is all pleasantries. As adults, we like to talk and catch up on things going on in our lives. Depending on the meeting, some people might not have seen each other for days or weeks. Those five minutes are crucial to catch up, settle down and get in the right frame of mind for that meeting.

Why do we treat students differently? Some of these students haven't seen each other since the day before. I have found that by letting these students have these first five minutes has actually increased the work we get done. I walk around the room and talk with the students. Those five minutes allow me to engage and personally tell each table what we will be doing. I take attendance as I walk around and talk to the students. By the time that five minute catchup period ends, the students are ready to go.

I have learned so much about my students from talking with them and sharing ideas. These five minutes have become a fun part of my class and my kids like the talk time as well. Those connections I have made during those five minutes have made a lasting impact on student engagement and relationships. It is something I really encourage all teachers to look at implementing in their class.

How do you start your class?

19 comments:

  1. I can relate to your reasoning. Spent several years feeling that I needed to get as much out of my teaching time as possible so I was almost militant about starting the lesson as soon as the students were seated. As I teach more, I realize that spending the time and developing rapport with my students has many benefits. Students know you better, they realize you care about them and are interested in them, so they trust you and therefore they will allow you to teach them.

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  2. Thank you for that ! I had noticed the importance of taking the first five minutes to relax, get to know the students and have a 'real' conversation ..... but often I forgot about this and I wanted everyone to be full of energy and work fast - there was so much to do.

    I have started my new school year with the resolution to sspend 5 minutes just to let everyone have the time to get into their 'English' mode, to chat about what they're doing in school, life etc. Last night I also made a reslolution to stop my lesson at least 10 minutes before the end, to get feedback, to make sure everyone is clear about preparation for the following week etc. so we all leave the classroom equally relaxed, rather than working to the last minute and then not even being able to discuss the activities/goals etc.

    I have been teaching many, many years, but you never stop adapting and trying out new ways to get the best from your students and lessons :)

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  3. I usually spend the first few minutes asking my class how they have been and inquiring about their day since I meet my classes once a week. We also do like a fun song as a warm up. They love the songs, especially the nonsense songs.
    I love reading your posts. They are always very insightful and make me reflect on my teaching.

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  4. That is what I do, walk around taking attendance. Sometimes students are ready to go when I'm done and other times they seem to need a couple more minutes. I appreciate your post because when I give them the time to meet and get ready they seem more, well, ready! Makes sense!

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  5. I love this! Kids need decompression time too. I dislike being the drill sargeant barking orders first thing through the door.

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  6. Absolutely! I begin class with a check-in about weekends, the day before, etc.. and it helps to put students (and me!) at ease. Also, checking in allows us to connect to our students which ultimately allows us to be more effective during teaching time! Thanks for this great post :)

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  7. I always have a warm up writing activity projected onto the board but I also have noticed the kids will take a few minutes to get into it because they're busy talking to each other. I generally join in to whatever the main topic of conversation is and it does take about five minutes before they get to work. I agree that it's not the worst thing in the world to spend time getting to know your students.

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  9. I totally agree, but how do you keep the volume level low enough? I always have a warm up and give the students a few more minutes than is necessary to complete it (I use a timer on the board). My first period class is so loud! I have 30 8th graders, 20 of them are boys. It's 9 weeks in and I can't figure out how to get them to use quiet voices!

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  10. I use something called "check-in" (which sounds enough like "chicken" that we call it that sometimes as well) where students can tell stories, share news events, or just generally settle in to the period. I hadn't used it in years (all that bell-to-bell teaching, warm-up activities that get them started immediately, etc. stuff seeped too far into my practice) but I have two classes that really, really need it so I've reinstated it. It's not only a chance to settle in, but to build community...and in a self-paced, asynchronous flipped class, I didn't do enough of that early on. One student actually said, "I didn't even know that person was in this class...and it's the eighth week" during class last week. It's great for them to be able to hear from classmates, build listening/speaking skills, and develop classroom community.

    And it only costs me a few minutes each class period. Totally worth it.

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  11. Thanks for sharing this positive experience! How would you handle late comers? My school has become too flexible in discipline and this might've taken a toll on academic part as well.

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  12. Thanks for starting this discussion, Nick. At my school, we are required to do a silent "Do Now' at the start of every class. At first, I was very anti this idea because I felt it would waste a precious 5 minutes of my 45 minute period. What I found is that this really sets a good tone for the class. Since I only see students 2-3 times a week for 45 minutes, we use that 5 minutes to write a quick note about what we did last time and to write the day's objective. It also starts the class in a peaceful, calm way. This prepares the kids for the class and gives me time to take attendance and deal with any issues I need to deal with in the first 5 minutes of housekeeping. We then take 2 minutes to review what we wrote and then that flows easily into the day's activities.

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  13. While I find this interesting...I wonder how effective this is for new teachers who are struggling with classroom management. Are you all experienced teachers commenting on this blog? I find that new teachers - if they let the students have this time, can't get them back on track to focus on the lesson. Thoughts?

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  14. I'm a first year teacher (6th grade) and I have procedures in place at the beginning of each class for students to come in, find their seat, fill out their agenda information, and begin silent reading until we get started. For the most part, it works very well. Students know what is expected from them each day, for each class. I'm on a two-teacher team, so I see my kids twice a day. While my students are completing these tasks, I have a chance to meet quietly with individuals while going around and signing their agendas. Once I see that everyone has completed this routine, we'll usually have an informal discussion about what our goals are for the day. Sometimes we'll talk about non-school things, but I've found that I have a hard time letting the kids take charge of the conversation, especially on Monday mornings - when they probably need it the most.

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  15. I taught middle and high school for 9 years. I now teach college, and I feel the same as you - I have the students twice or three times a week, and minutes are precious. However, I start every class with time for announcements and questions. The students ask questions related to the course, homework, etc., but also about things happening on campus. I encourage them to announce activities they are involved in: sports events, performances, speakers, and so on - and I do the same for things sponsored by my department or other organizations I belong to. I really think it helps build classroom community!

    Most of my students are future secondary teachers, and I will be sharing your thoughts with them (particularly when I supervise them in student teaching in the spring!). Thanks.

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  16. In the wake of all that has happened this last few days, it's a timely reminded that we need to connect to our young people and not just spout information at them. Well done. You are making a difference . Thank You

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  17. This is great! I have a colleague that asks the kids a question of the day... and he takes attendance by having them tell the class their answer. Always some silly kind of question that gets them laughing.

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  18. Thanks for sharing! I have to smile because over the years I've found quite the opposite to be true, that sharing announcements and goals right at the bell sets a great, positive tone and that passing time and being in the hall can allow for social connections. I've also experienced that a slippery slope can occur if not projecting being ready to go, students learning that they can be late or ask to go get materials because they won't miss much anyway. Oh, and in a public school in post Act 10 Wisconsin, you will be fired pretty quick with this approach. APs will make suggestions to even master teachers with 4/4 ratings on a Danielson's model (like me) with how to better get students started while giving several others make up work from absence. Are Edublog awards based on amount of traffic?

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