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Organization & Behavior

By now, most teachers have been in school for a while.  I did a Facebook live recently about problems/issues that tend to crop up at this time of the year.  You can watch that here. The two main issues that seem to be the most pressing for September (assuming an August start date for school) are organization and behavior. While I would never say I solved both issues with 100% success, I do think I have at least a few good insights for each one.  In my opinion, getting behavior under control is the most pressing of the two, so it is the one I decided to focus on first.

Two by Ten Strategy

One of my favorite behavior strategies is the two by ten (2 x 10 for short) strategy.  One of the reasons that I like it so much is that it is not some quick fix for “xyz” behavior problem (i.e. talking out, unkind to others, etc.) Rather, I see this as more of a preemptive move to help derail problems before they start.  The reason behind my feelings about this is because not only because it doesn’t address one specific behavior issue, but also because it is just good practice for all teachers.  I did a Facebook live on this strategy as well, but we were having some major technology issues that day, so I wanted to go into more detail here.

“No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship.”

~ James Comer

One of the basic tennets of this strategy is based on a famous quote from James Comer that you’ll hear me say often—“No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship.” I believe this statement wholeheartedly.  Kids just won’t learn from people they don’t like.  Oh, they might get something here and there, but for true learning to take place kids must feel respected, at ease in their environment and engaged in the work we ask them to do.  This strategy helps with relationship building, which is a key factor for creating an environment kids can thrive in.

Do it 2 minutes a day for 10 days

The strategy is called 2 x 10 because you do it for 2 minutes per day for 10 consecutive days. You can pick one child, multiple children or your whole class.  Here is basically how it works: For two minutes a day, you have a conversation with the child about anything non-school related you can.  You could talk about their hobbies, their interests, their family, or what they watched on TV last night—anything that helps you get to know them as a person, most importantly who they are outside of school.  You repeat this activity for 10 consecutive days. At that time, you can decide to move on to a different student (or group of students) or stay with the same child. I think this decision will be based on the results that you get in that first round.

For some kids, it is going to take several rounds of practicing this strategy before they feel comfortable taking risks (which is essential to learning) in the classroom.  Other kids will warm up quickly and be right at home in your classroom.  Only your professional judgment can determine how much to interact with a child.  The 2 x 10 strategy is not a magic formula, but rather a guideline to help you as you get to know your students.  Some kids will need significantly more interaction, and some will want less.  You will be amazed at how well you can get to know your students in just this short time.  There are plenty of opportunities in the day to squeeze in two minutes: arrival, dismissal, waiting in line, restroom breaks, going into lunch, during center time; really this list is endless and up to each individual teacher.

If you try this strategy, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below to let us know how it went.
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