“Highly effective teachers use procedures and systems to maximize the value of each minute of learning...To be clear, these highly effective teachers sweat the details not because they are obsessed with control but because they see that this attention to detail translates into student learning.”Steven Farr, Teaching As Leadership
From my 20 years of teaching in both brick and mortar classrooms, 100% virtual classrooms, and a hybrid of the two, I have become a firm believer that the first two minutes of class, or a learning session, might possibly be the most important. I have observed in classrooms around the country that it is common for these precious few minutes to be wasted as the class gets ready to begin. I call these undefined areas in our lessons, gray areas, and it is our responsibility, if we are going to help our students succeed, to paint them black and white. I like how Steve Farr says it, “...highly effective teachers sweat the details…”. When we “sweat the details” and design and consistently implement hyper predictable learning routines our students are safer and more successful.
I am curious, how do you use the first few minutes of class?
I advocate that we begin with a prompt, not a quiz, that uses metacognitive practice to warm up the mind to get ready to learn. I often use "retrieval practice” and/or “spaced practice" when I engage students in the Kick-Off when we begin. Personally, I like to have my students look back, or reflect, for a few reasons. One important reason is that it gives me the opportunity to revisit and reteach what we have previously learned in order to clear up student misconceptions and while we build a solid foundation for what we will learn next.
However, teachers can also look forward as they start each day with their students. I have watched as skillful teachers tap prior knowledge in their students with a prompt that sparks curiosity and excitement about what they will learn and engage in that day or week in class. To be honest, I am in awe of teachers who can spark true curiosity in students day after day. It is a gift and an art that they hone and it is worth the effort. Research has shown that curiosity is "a hidden force that drives learning, critical thinking, and reasoning."
What do you do with the first two minutes of class? Whether you opt to look back or look forward as you start, having a dependable procedure in place, one that employs metacognitive practice, to maximize each minute of class for learning, will set your students up for success.