Sunday, August 27, 2006

Not As Brave As the Rest of You...

While so many of you seem to have been diving headlong into the adventure of putting our amazing summer experiences into practice in the classroom, I've had far more... trepidation... in my attempts.

But I have found, to my amazement, that a seemingly slight thing -- a baby step, really -- has already made a huge difference in all of my classes.

Check-in, and check-out.

The first day the students thought it was silly. The second day, they found ways to make most of their check-in comments bad jokes and innuendos. The third day, they were really in the groove. By the fourth day, I was getting scolded if I forgot to do check-in or check-out for a particular class.

It's a ritual that my kids seem to be drawn to, and I think it has a lot to do with the power of choice -- they can tell us exactly how they are feeling, or they can choose to keep that information to themselves. It also, of course, has a lot to do with the opportunity to be listened to (something we learned this summer). I suspect a lot of my kids go through the entire day without being listened to at all.

I'm doing some other things, too -- vocal warm-ups in my speech classes, milling/seething and dictionary work for my drama classes... and I'm sure the benefits for these activities will soon be evident... but nothing has been so impressive to me as the power of this small, beautiful thing -- check-in and check-out.

I'm ready for the rest of the year. To quote my brilliant pal Neale, "I'm good to go, ready to rock and roll."



At 7:17 AM, Blogger Shakespeare Teacher said...

Congrats Michael! Just what I needed to hear. I'm looking forward to trying check in/check out. I go back today and the students come tomorrow! Thanks for sharing.


At 11:49 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Very cool, Michael. I'm excited to use it, too.

Do you check in and out of every class every day? How long does it generally take?

At 4:17 PM, Blogger shaketwin said...

Thanks for the inspiration. Today was my first day back at school and I'm trying to plan, and what you said re-convinced me what we've learned will work-- we just have to try!

At 11:10 PM, Blogger Shakespeare Teacher said...

Emily --

I check in with each class every day, but some days I have to make it extremely quick: a weather report, or a color, or a one-word emotion. I've missed check out a couple of times because I wasn't watching the clock, but I try not to miss it, because check out is a great review/reinforcement activity.

At 11:21 PM, Blogger Shakespeare Teacher said...

And to answer your second question, Emily, a "quick" check in (with 25 students) takes two minutes or a little less. A normal, free-flowing check in takes about five minutes. For some reason, check out always takes about three minutes. So, you have to plan for 5-8 extra minutes in each class. BUT IT'S WORTH IT.



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