At the beginning of each new school year, I would give my students a journal in which to write during the next two years. We didn’t do a lot of journal entries, but I liked to take a survey of how they were feeling about certain events or projects without having a whole class discussion. With the journals, they wrote during class and I would read them afterwards. And, because they knew I was the only one to see these entries, I learned some interesting things about my students.
The journals were always handed out the second day of school and the first question to which I wanted a response was: How did the first day of school go for you? Almost every student, every year, would write that the teachers talked too much, they got tired of listening, they shut down and quit listening. This was due to the fact that the teachers were required to give out their rules and syllabus on the first day. I don’t know WHY that was a requirement, but it was. Being the rebel, I quit doing it after reading my students’ responses.
So, what did I do on the first day of class? I introduced myself. I told a little about the class and what we would be doing. Then I let them talk for the rest of the period. They had been away from school all summer. They wanted to talk to their friends. However, while they talked, I watched and listened. A few would engage me in conversation. They had questions about what was going on at school or how to do certain things like sign up for a sport. The next day, after they wrote in their journals, we would do a few of the record keeping tasks like hand out permission slips for all those field trips we would be taking. I would introduce marketing and talk about customer service. The third day, more paperwork, more rules. But, each day, I didn’t talk the whole period. No one wants to listen to someone talk at them for an hour.
The program in which I taught had a separate graduation ceremony for the seniors. If you have been with me on this blog for a few years, you may remember some of those events. We had a student speaker, a faculty speaker, and a member of the community speak. I had a rule for speeches: five minutes ONLY. I would tell the speakers that no one wanted to listen to them talk for more than five minutes. The students and their families appreciated this and would often complain about the BIG graduation for the whole school where the speakers talked FOREVER. Sometimes the kids would say, “Mrs. Zody, you should be in charge of graduation.” Uh, no thanks.
The other day I saw this infographic on Twitter and I had to laugh. It visually shows what I’ve been saying all these years: