When we begin a school day, class period, or learning session with Organized Binder we always start with the Kick-Off! It is critical that we give students opportunities to practice getting to know what it looks like when they are ready to learn. Similar to a soccer match, students need to “get ready” to learn and know when they are ready.
I coach my oldest daughter’s under 12 recreational soccer team. As a coach, I have found that if I have done the necessary preparations for each game, on game day I can spend my time chatting with the team and encouraging them prior to to the kickoff. It gives me a chance to connect with each individual player on game day, which is distinctly different from doing so at practice. If I am not adequately prepared I have to sit off to the side and fill out the game card for the referees, assign the team roster to positions, know who to sub and when, etc. When I have not taken the time to prepare I miss a chance to connect with my players, as well as their families.
The same is true for the classroom. As a teacher, when I have my lesson planned out, with my Kick-Off prompt ready to go when we begin, it liberates me to stand at my classroom door, or zoom room, and personally greet each student as they arrive. Of course my lesson is smoother when I am prepared but I have noticed another byproduct of my preparation - students are more engaged. When I have time to meet and greet students, to ask them how their day is going, or about something they shared in a Learning Log, we are more connected. When I meet and greet my students management issues subside. We laugh together. We sometimes cry together. When I am well prepared, just as a coach must be for her team, I am free to focus on community building and personal connections. I have come to love those few minutes before a lesson when I can simply relax and enjoy connecting with my students.
However, I can’t meet and greet my students if I don’t routinely schedule time in my day to plan. Time blocking is key. When I set time aside to reflect and plan for each lesson I give myself the opportunity to develop deeper connections with my students.
How do you plan? How do you free yourself to post up at the classroom door and smile at every student as they enter. I’d love to hear how you get ready so you can meet and greet your students.