When I was a brand-spanking new teacher I was in awe of veteran teachers who had mastered classroom management. Classroom management is difficult for any teacher, but it can be even more difficult in an inner city school. The school where I started my career in the late 90s was the center of the book Push and/or movie Precious. It was a rough and tough place in Central Harlem, yet there were many teachers who had this classroom managment thing mastered.
I spoke to each of them separately to find out their secret. They all had the same answer and it really was a secret. The teachers who were the best at having a classroom with respect and students who were onboard with learning had one thing in common. The first month of school, they locked their doors and covered their windows and they spent time getting to know their students, building relationships, and coming up with ideas about how they wanted their classroom run. They explained trust and relationships must be established before they could dive into the curriculum, so the most respected teachers spent the beginning of the year, focusing on just that.
Now that may sound like a good idea, but what does it mean exactly, and how do you do it? They each had their own secrets, but there was nothing tangible they were able to pass along.
"Liberating Genius, The First 20 Days" is an interactive guide by Angela Maiers and Mark Moran that brings teachers and their students on a journey via 20 lessons which you can do daily, biweekly, weekly or whatever works best for your student’s learning environment. Lessons address topics such as how to find your genius, how to connect with others to help you build your genius, how to collaborate effectively, and how to share your genius with the world.
And you know what? They have even found it raises test scores if you care about that sort of thing ;)
One of the lessons is: My Passion Profile. It introduces a tool called Thrively that provides a great framework for discovering and developing your passions. It starts with a student strength assessment that helps students connect with, then pursue, their genius. It helps teachers get to know every student more in depth and helps students to connect with each over interests that school does not traditionally uncover.
I love the resource so much, that I provided an opportunity for teachers to take a day out of their summer vacation to learn more about it. You can click this link to hear their take-aways.
Now, back to my beginning teacher days...
I collected paper copies of some of the teachers lessons, handouts, and tools they used in their first month and the reality is it looked a lot like many of the resources available in the "Liberating Genius" guide and Thrively platform. The only thing is it was not organized so beautifully and it was MUCH harder to implement.
Today, with Thrively, a lot of this is automated i.e. take a quiz, and poof, you get a personal strength's profile. The neat package of the book, takes the mystery out of what it takes to build a classroom where you know your student's genius and can grow to respect one another and actually work on making the world a better place.
The secret is out. Innovative educators can make use of these fantastic and free resources with their students. If you do, please share how it goes. I'm excited to hear about the genius of your students.