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Starting on the right foot
On the first day or two of school, it can be tempting to want to lay the ground rules. You know, set the expectations about workload, go over the rules, and fill out the required forms. But Rick Wormeli wants to challenge educators to think differently.
Wormeli, one of the first Nationally Board Certified Teachers in America, says that students want to know that you’re going to transcend their current condition and help them aspire to something more than they are.
“And when all they [students] get is more rules and regulations, they realize one more year where there’s nothing here for me.”
Wormeli recommends laying a foundation of meaningful relationships with students by mixing activities that allow you to get to know and understand where the students are coming from.
Wormeli recently listed ways this can be accomplished in a recent article he penned for AMLE, and he elaborates on those ideas in Episode 224 of the Class Dismissed podcast.
Wormeli’s beginning of the year ideas
“The Best Way for You to Learn” Cards
Using index cards, teachers can ask students to describe how they best learn that particular subject.
“Kids are candid,” says Wormeli. “They will say things like, look, if it’s really important, write it on the board.” Or he says some students may ask you not to assign online assignments because their sibling always hogs the computer.
“I’ve got a stack that I rubber band, and I look through that as I try to decide what I’m going to do next,” Wormeli says kids will say some really cool things and give him lots of examples.
Letters to the Teacher from Students as their Parents
When students write under a pseudonym, they feel freer to speak their mind, says Wormeli.
“When I get what they say about themselves, and then I get what they think their parents would say about themselves, I’m getting a really fleshed version of the child,” says Wormeli. “When someone is fully dimensionalized, you really care a heck of a lot more.
“I love six-word memoirs!” says Wormeli. They really make kids come out of their shells and say profound things.
The brilliance of six-word memoirs is the brevity; teachers can use six-word memoirs as their students examine the content. “It really reveals a lot more about what the student is thinking.”
Wormeli says he often has students continue to send six-word memoirs after class about sports or pop culture.
To hear more from Rick Wormeli, listen to Episode 224 of the Class Dismissed Podcast on your favorite podcast app or iTunes.