Serial Success: A 6let of Strategies

The third installment of my first blog series, Serial Success

1. The Name Game
This is a fantastical idea for teachers who don't know their students' names yet. Instead of the normal roll call or go around the room and tell us your name, you make a game out of it. The first student says their name. The second name says the first student's name and then their name. The third student says the first and second student's name and then their own. And so on...the names are repeated so often that everyone, including you will know everyone's name by the end of the game. Of course, the ultimate challenge is if you can remember ALL the names. There is something powerful about calling someone by name, so the sooner you learn it, the better. This is just one example. There's a ton of ways and games you could create in order to accomplish the same goal. Get creative.

2. Daily Poll
This is something I encountered in college and really enjoyed. Our professor used this as a way of attendance but I think it's just a good time. He had a question written on a clipboard that he passed around the room. We had to write our name and an answer to the question. No answers could be repeated and your answers had to be legit [props to MC Hammer]. After everyone finished he would look at and read the really funny or creative answers or the ones that were wrong. It was a fun way to make class go by faster. Some examples of questions were "What's your favorite Disney movie?" (and it HAD to be Disney) "If you could be any character from a book, who would it be?" "What's your favorite mode of transportation?" (Remember, no answers could be repeated) These are a great way to test the imaginations of your students.

3. Candy
Without getting into the debate of internal vs. external motivators, candy is just a fun surprise. A teacher I had in high school had a jar of candy and randomly would offer it to the class. For no reason. And not often enough that we could expect it. That was the beauty of it. No strings attached. Everyone likes a little surprise chocolate.

4. Electric Pencil Sharpener
While I am pretty sure this goes without saying, an electric pencil sharpener will save your life. There is nothing worse than someone sawing away at the pencil sharpener while you're trying to speak. Or maybe it's just a pet peeve. But the regular kind always break and the electric ones are just easier to deal with. And quicker.

5. Acknowledge Student Achievements
This can be done in a variety of ways. You could have a Star of the Day, Student of the Week, Student of the Month, etc. Put their picture in your school newspaper, department newsletter, a note to parents, on the school website, on your class website, in the classroom, in the hallway, etc. Take a picture, print out a certificate, give them a sash or a crown (lol), give them a toy trophy or medal, etc. Also, make sure to acknowledge achievements outside of academics. If they're in the newspaper or won some other award, announce it in your class as well. Hang up articles, photos, and certificates that show your students hard work. Again, students want to be noticed. This really creates a positive atmosphere in your classroom and shows your high expectations.

6. Don't Play Favorites
This is important. For the majority of classes, your students have been going to school together for a significant amount of time. They know who the teacher's pet will be, who gets to run all the errands, who the slackers are, who the good readers are, and who always knows the answer. Break up the stereotypes, people! What I've seen the most is writing everyone's name on a stick and drawing sticks. Another version is writing everyone's name on a card and putting them on a key ring so you can flip back and forth. I see this mostly in the elementary and middle school but it needs to be implemented in the high school. It ensures the randomness and gives other students a chance. Use it to decide who to call on, how to pick partners, who to send on errands, and more. It's fun. It's fair. And it's handy-dandy [props to Steve].

Can't stop at 666...so come back!

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