The 2 x 10 Method: Building Student Relationships One Kid at a Time
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In a recent online seminar with school psychologist Dr. Allen Mendler, Mendler talked about the 2 x 10 method of connecting with students, especially tough students. Here’s what he suggested:
Take two minutes a day for 10 consecutive days to engage the student in personal conversation.
I haven’t tried this myself, but I can see how this 2 x 10 method would work well to improve classroom management. Personal connections are so important to learning. If a student knows the teacher cares, the student is more likely to be engaged in class. If the teacher and student have created a personal bond, it’s harder for either one to depersonalize and disrespect one another.
The two minutes need to be personal and not about math, science, or business communications. What did you do over the weekend? is always a good start. So are: Did you catch last night’s game? What do you think about the new movie? Could you recommend a video game my son might enjoy? The conversation should be about the student, not about the teacher. Listen and learn. Respond. Smile. Treat the kid as if she is the most interesting kid in the room.
If I were to use the 2 x 10 method, I’d first target my influential student leaders – the ones who are more likely to lead the class in mayhem, like Tim or Ashley, rather than those who edit the yearbook, like Charisse or Karen.Charisse and Karen already tell me all about their weekends and show me their yearbook layouts. They connect with everyone. Tim and Ashley connect with their peers just fine, but love to strengthen the us-versus-them students-versus-teachers mentality.
It might be an interesting experiment to use 2 x 10 on the student leader’s buddy first rather than approach Tim or Matt head on. Clint feels more approachable to me than Tim does; at least he’s more predictable. Hannah is less likely to be fashionably rude to me than Ashley. Winning over the best friends could be a good first step to winning over the student leaders.
I’d also use the 2 x 10 method on those kids who are hard to reach, like Aaron, who doesn’t come to class very often, or Kurt, who rarely puts pen to paper.
I’m sure that the 2 x 10 method isn’t a miracle cure for classroom management. But I have two minutes to strengthen a bond between myself and a student. One caring adult can make a huge difference in a student’s life. And maybe, my two minutes over 10 days will yield benefits beyond the personal connection: improved classroom management and more student learning.
Allen N. Mendler, PhD, is an educator, psychologist., and author. His most recent book published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Connecting with Students (2001), provides numerous practical strategies that help educators to connect effectively with their students. He can-be contacted at: Discipline Associates, phone: 1 /800/772-5227; fax: 773/549-6515; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Web site: www.disciplineassociates.com