Today I was asked to give a 30 minute keynote address to Capital City Schools in Dover, Delaware. When I first read the assignment I freaked out. Thirty-minutes???? How can I impart any knowledge in thirty-minutes? Then I thought….this is a great challenge because what do classroom teachers do every day? Teachers have to build relationships with students in a very few minutes as they enter and exit the classroom. It is perfectly fitting that I develop a thirty-minute training on developing relationships.
I told the group about Each One Save Five. Bhaermann and Kopp say a student is less likely to drop out of school if one adult other than their teacher, knows and uses their name in a positive way. One of my favorite high schools in Weatherford, Oklahoma developed Each One Save Five for their school. They took the total number of students in the school and divided it by the total number of adults in the school. This included the custodian, clerical, and even cafeteria workers. Their number came out to five. Once a week, each person must make positive contact with their five students. It can be emails, postcards, phone calls to the home answering machine, letters home, notes in the locker or desk, or messages delivered by office aides throughout the day. Imagine the power we have with just this one tidbit. Even a bus driver who has very little contact time with a student can learn their name and save them from dropping out of high school. How many times have we heard a famous person talk about how much trouble they were in when they were young and one adult took an interest in them and turned them around? It happens a lot. That is one person making a difference.
The second tidbit I focused on was greeting students at the door using TUMS which is my acronym for interacting with students. The “T” stands for touch. We stopped touching children a few years back because we were afraid we were going to end up on the six o’clock news. A perfectly proper greeting would be to shake a student’s hand. This is touching in a socially appropriate way. Teachers can also do fist bumps, high fives, low fives, pinkie bumps, elbow bumps, or implosion/explosion hand bump. The message to the students is that I value you.
The “U” stands for use their name in a positive way. Not “Oh Ferris it’s you.” Rather, “Ferris, so good to see you. How was your sister’s birthday party last night?” Any little message indicating you noticed or remembered something about them. Doing this as the students enter the door can give you a heads up on who is having a good day and who is not. A few seconds in the hallway before class starts can make all the difference in the world.
The “M” stands for make eye contact. As a society, we have decrease face time by 62% since the 1950′s. Albert Einstein once said he feared the day that technology surpassed human connection. It seems he knew this day was coming. Students today have never known a time without smart phones or technological games. When I was a child, we ate dinner at the dining room table and we talked to each other. When I was a child I played outside when the weather was nice and when it was too cold to play outside we sat at the dining room table playing board games. All of these activities gave me eye contact with my family and my friends. Today, students eat their meals in front of the television. Children do not play outside or at the dining room table. Children play their games facing screens. So kids are desperate for face time. Eventually, the students figure it out. ”If I stand up in class and say “F” you, you “F>>>>ing” “B” they get a ton of face time from peers and adults. If we give them eye contact before they have a chance to take it during class, they will not resort to that behavior in the classroom.
The “S” stands for smile. We are so busy thinking about what we are going to do next that we forget what we are doing with our face. As a presenter sometimes I look out in the audience and it looks like everyone is mad. It’s not that they are mad. They are so busy thinking about what I am saying they fail to smile until I tell a joke. We do this at school in the hallway when we greet the students and each other. We have 50 balls in the air that we are juggling at any given moment. Read a joke a day or tell each other jokes in the hallway before the bell rings just to remind ourselves to smile.
So stand at the door and do “TUMS”. Turn off your fluorescent lights in your room and put a desk lamp with a 60 watt bulb in it. Play 60 bpm music. Put a thought provoking question on the board for them to ponder and be ready to answer when the lights come on and the music goes off. If you do these things, you will have less disruptions in the classroom.
I’ll share about the sixty beats per minute and why that is important in another post. Have a wonderful school year.