My brilliant colleague Jeff Nelson wrote about the power of good news between teachers, students, and families on his blog today:
It reminded me of a classroom practice that took me years to figure out. I called it, “Two at a Time.” Every day I focused on two students. I didn’t ignore the rest of my class, but these two students would be the ones I would zero in on throughout the day. I noted who they played with at recess, where they sat in the lunchroom, I met with each of them in one-on-one conferences to look through their book boxes, check in on their current goals, and progress monitor if needed. I kept a list of my students grouped in twos to help me keep track and had a running note sheet for each student held in a binder on my desk. Within two weeks or so, I could get through my whole class and begin the list again.
I also sent a note, email, or phone call to the family of that day’s duo. Some of these notes were quick, “Can I just tell you how much I enjoy having Diana in my class?” “I’m so proud to tell you that Simon met his reading goal today and he can’t wait to share with you tonight what his new goal is!” Other notes were a bit lengthier depending on the student. In either case, only communicating with two families/day was do-able for me.
There’s so much on a teacher’s plate on any given day. It’s impossible to do it all, be it all. To steal a line from Desmund Tutu, “There is only one way to eat an elephant, a bite at a time.” I found that I could manage two bites a day!
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!