New School Year Resolution - Techy Two by Ten

The New School Year began last week. As with all New School Years, teachers write resolutions - the most notable of which is to establish better student relationships.

I am one of those teachers. Last year my 5th Period had 37 students. Mind you, it was an Honors English class; therefore, higher numbers should not have been a huge issue. However, for the life of me, I confused three boys until the last day of school.

I felt like a failure with these boys. While none of the three was a behavior problem, I felt that connecting with each student would have made their time under my mentorship better and more productive. Students from other periods, a few who made my hair go gray, would have also benefited from stronger Positive Behavior relationships.

Now, before you brush aside this argument as liberal Californian dribble, know that I am military born, raised, and married. I can put my students into bootcamp with a drop of the hat . . . but that is not how my military father taught me. My father was a Chief Hospital Corpsman. His mantra was praise in public and chastise in privateResearch backs up this Positive Behavior approach.

Research shows that relationships are essential to student academic success. The problem for middle and high school teachers is the sheer number of students. Memorizing student faces, names, and details is difficult but not impossible. These higher grade teachers may feel helpless with the relentless student need for attention, and, worse, many students may feel isolated and alone.

When teachers can memorize student faces, names, and details, we can detect when a student has a tough day and requires space, a hug, or just plain understanding. More importantly, our ability to connect with a student means we can have both high expectations and patience. In return, students demonstrate the same respect and trust. The end result is student academic success.

The Techy Two by Ten method is based on Sarah McKibben's ASCD article Two Minutes to Better Student Behavior. The article chronicles Lisa Kitzmann, a 3rd grade teacher in California, who found that when teachers "spend two minutes a day for 10 days having a personal conversation with the student" - albeit "sports, cars, family life, legos, whatever"- the result was improved classroom behavior for students and better teacher outlook.

In the March 28th, 2016 episode of Every Classroom Matters podcast, Vicki Davis interviewed Angela Maiers. The first tip of Seven Smart Tips for Wrapping Up the School Year was 'dwell in possibility when you live in frustration.' Students and teachers should focus on and celebrate the positive in our lives with What Went Right Today.  Maiers stated in the podcast that "it takes deliberate effort and conscious choice in changing the conversation . . . because our brains are attracted to negative."

Maiers' tip spurred the What Went Right Yesterday Daily Check-in with #ChipmanSummer students. To help me take roll and get to know students, students completed a WWRY Daily Check-In, which I read and commented on for roughly ten days. I learned that a student went with her mother to federal building Fresno where the mom became a U.S. citizen. I learned that one student earned a higher belt level in karate, and yet another went shopping "grandma-style" with his grandma. I would only have 20 days with these students, so getting to know them was important to earning my student's respect and maintaining a strong instructional environment.

Two weeks after summer school started, the Compton JHS Dean took 10 staff members to a non-traditional conference in Camarillo. As we sat in a pizza parlor to debrief, the Dean asked for our take-away. My brain was in full tech mode - I wanted to extend the What Went Right Google Form and Google Sheet Responses  Of course, I had no idea how to do that. I just knew that it could be done.

I researched how to create add-ons. I learned how to use =image("url") with published images in Google Sheets. I racked my head when I learned that linking to Google Drive images no longer worked. I was near despair when I decided to ask for help on Twitter.
Considering that it was 3:38 am PST and Alice Keeler was probably sleeping, Kenneth Griswold came to my rescue. The answer? To protect student privacy, I needed to create a walled garden in Google Sites. Finally, =image("url") worked!

My next question to my new tech mentor was
Despite the confusing question and the need to ask for clarification, Griswold sent me a screencast explaining the required formulas. Thus, the Techy Two by Ten was born.

For the past week, I have been working with Kenneth Griswold@ComptonJHS staff, fellow #teamBCSD colleagues, and Twitter Tribe members, such as Mari Venturino, to shape this blended approach to building positive relationships with students. I know that there is more work to be done - that the concept will evolve into something even greater - but I am proud of the Techy Two by Ten and what it will become.

  1. Meet students and take pictures.
    • Make sure to greet students with eye contact.
    • Allow students to choose between shaking hands or giving Japanese bows as they enter and exit the classroom.
    • Use ice breakers and group circles to get to know students.
    • Make a strong effort to memorize face, names, and details.
  2. Add a dash of tech.
    • Google Sites
      • Upload pictures to Google Sites & share the website with ONLY your school district to protect student privacy.
    • Google Forms
      • Create a Google Form with a drop-down menu for names, What Went Right short answer, What they want to share with me short answer, a multiple choice option for Public or Private comment, and a short answer feedback for teacher improvement.
    • Google Sheets
      • Insert a new sheet for a roster on the automatically created Response sheet.
      • Use the formula =image("url"). Make sure to copy the full url. No shortcuts.
      • On the original response sheet, insert a column.
      • In the new column B, use the formula =vlookup(C2, Roster!A:B,2, false) to grab the student picture from the roster.
      • Resize columns E & F to 400.
      • Use the copyDown Add-on so that future responses automatically include the formula.
      • Resize the rows to 100.
      • Text wrap the comments.
      • Hide rows after you have read the class's daily response.
  3. Dedicate 2 minutes a day of face to face contact with each student for 10 days.
    • Use public details from the What Went Right Google Forms/Responses to talk to each student.
    • Read public comments, without student names, to the class. Be genuinely interested in the information.
    • Be mindful of private comments when interacting with students.
 

The following video, which will be submitted with my Google Innovator application for the Toronto Cohort, introduces the Techy Two by Ten. Each student in the video returned a signed guardian permission slip with full knowledge of the public YouTube video. Immediately following the vision video is a Google Slide Deck that visually spells out the vision.



I am determined to fulfill my New School Year Resolution to establish better student-teacher relationships. I am dedicated to learning my student's faces as I learn more about them with face-to-face conversations, a 10-day Google Form, and further conversations based on that information. I will learn my students' faces, names, and details. Students will learn in an environment where they are comfortable enough to fail and try again. Our class  will be successful this year. As our Dean reminded me, tech will never replace face-to-face relationships with our students, but this method will help.

Regardless of acceptance into the Google Innovator Program, I will have better relationships with my students this year. This is my resolution. 

Comments

  1. Hi Jennifer! Here's to a wonderful school year!! I just started my first blog today! I really don't know what I am doing. I am following you on Twitter, do you have any insight or words of advice? I am not paying for any of my services, well maybe $5 to Word Press or Blog Spot. My page is so incredibly boring! Please help: www.thoughtsfromthegreenpod.com Thanks!

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