Saturday, August 20, 2016
How I Changed My Classroom Culture Through High-Fives
I followed TMC15 virtually and read about Glenn Waddell's session on giving his students high fives every day for a year. So I decided to take on the challenge this past school year. I am proud to say that I was successful. I didn't miss a single day. This was a big change for me. I never made it into the hallway as often as I would have liked before. Most of the time, I was doing a quick clean-up of my room between classes. This included putting away supplies from one class and taking out the supplies needed for the next class. This was actually the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome to be able to complete the challenge successfully.
I came up with a system where I used masking tape to split up a table by class and set out all the supplies for the day. I trained my students to pick up and put back their own supplies from this table at the start and end of class each day. The only other minor thing that I had to give up was conversations with students after class (some didn't mind standing in the hall next to me, but others would rather visit me before/after school than do that).
It definitely worked. I will be doing high fives again this year. The teachers around me commented that they thought it helped with building rapport with my students. I liked the added benefit oh noticing when kids avoided giving me a high five. This was a clue to let me know that something was wrong. Sometimes it had nothing to do with me and the issue resolved itself in one day. When a student skipped my high five two days in a row, I knew that I needed to arrange a chat. Most often they were upset by a decision that I made (how much credit to award a late assignment or assigning a detention for being late to class).
Some students actually enjoyed the high fives so much that they would give me a high five when they passed my room heading to another class. The funniest moment was probably when the final exam proctor told me that the class insisted that I come give them all a high five before they started their exams. I felt a little like a basketball star jogging down a tunnel of students giving high fives on both sides.
What a great idea that made such a difference in my relationships with students. Here's to another year of high fives!