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The 2 x 10 Method: Building Student Relationships One Kid at a Time

January 10th, 2011, By: Diane Trim in Articles, Classroom Management

This has been reposted from Inside the School. Click here to read it in its original location.

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:; Web site:

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Communicating AFL to Students and Parents

Many of the posts on this Ning have dealt with how to communicate with students and parents about AFL practices.  Let's face it, just like AFL concepts are new to many educators, they are definitely new to many students and parents.  It's important to properly communicate with students and parents so that they understand what we we're doing and why we're doing it.  This increases the likelihood that they will benefit from your AFL methods.


As additional resources for communicating AFL are added to the Ning, they will also be added to this blog.

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Interactive AFL Faculty Meetings

For the past several years at Salem High School we have focused on assessment for the staff development portion of our faculty meetings.  The Assessment Network has played an integral role in those faculty meetings.  The Forum feature has enabled us to make our discussions more interactive and collaborative as well enable us to archive our activities for future use.


This blog post is a list of the AFL Forum discussions we at SHS have had during those faculty meetings.  They are included here so that other schools can benefit from our exploration of AFL.  We encourage you to feel free to use our Forums as you see fit.  Furthermore, please be encouraged to use the Forum feature to create your own interactive staff development discussions.  Don't look at this as just Salem's page - it belongs to all members.  This Network is for any educators interested in exploring AFL.  If your faculty has an assessment discussion on this Network it will only serve to benefit the rest of us.


As we have additional AFL Forum discussions at SHS we will add links to them to this post.  

  • 9/03/09 - The relationship between assessment and grading
  • 9/23/09 - Grading v. Assessment
  • 10/28/09 - An example of AFL - GPS
  • 1/13/10 - An example of AFL - Whiteboards
  • 3/10/10 - Results of AFL Survey
  • 5/12/10 - Plans for AFL Objective
  • 12/8/10 - Use AFL Rubric to set mid-year objective
  • 12/14/11 - Building a Culture of Failure
  • 3/23/12 - Homework
  • 10/24/12 - AFL Discussion Question: Non-graded assessment to make sure students understand content
  • 11/28/12 - AFL Discussion Question: Using a summative assessment for a formative purpose
  • 1/22/13 - AFL Discussion Question: Quick AFL-activities to use at the end of class
  • 11/12/14 - Pretend You're A Grade Coach
  • 2/25/15 - Standards Based Learning and the Inchworm
  • 2/24/16 - Using AFL/SBL to Analyze a Common Assessment Practice: Earning Points Back on a Test
  • 4/13/16 - Tools for the Standard 7 Teacher
  • 1/11/17 - Applying SBL Philosophy
  • 1/10/18 - Incorporating Assessment into Lesson Plans
  • 1/08/20 - Compensation, Consequences, and Compliance
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The Philosophy of AFL

This AFL site has grown to the point where that it now contains many different blogs and discussion that get to the heart of the philosophy of AFL.  In order to most effectively implement AFL strategies into the classroom, it is helpful to have a strong understanding of the overall philosophy and goals behind AFL.  These ideas are scattered throughout the site. To make this site easier to navigate, this one blog will include links to all of the blogs and posts that deal with the philosophy of AFL.  

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Recently I spent a few minutes in the classroom of SHS Marketing teacher Michelle Kovac.  Her Marketing students had just turned in projects that day.  


When I came into the class the students were in the process of evaluating similar projects turned in by last year's students.  Mrs. Kovac had given her students a rubric when they started the project.  Now she was having them use that rubric to assess the projects that had been turned in last year.  After the students assessed last year's projects they told Mrs. Kovac what grade they had assigned to the projects.  Mrs. Kovac then told them what grade she had given.  By doing this, the students learned 2 things:

1. They realized that they were harsher graders than Mrs. Kovac was, and

2. They realized exactly how Mrs. Kovac would be grading their projects.


This led to the students falling right into Mrs. Kovac's "trap".  After truly understanding how their projects would be graded, the students asked exactly what Mrs. Kovac wanted them to ask - "Can we have some more time to work on our projects?"  Mrs. Kovac smiled and told them that they had the rest of the class period to finish their projects.  With their new assessment-elicited data in mind, the students literally sprinted to their projects to add finishing touches.  It was joy to watch students so eagerly wanting to work on a project, and it would not have happened if Mrs. Kovac hadn't taken the time to train them how to assess.


A student named Zac then made a statement that "one-upped" Mrs. Kovac's excellent lesson plan.  Zac told Mrs. Kovac that next time she should let them assess the old assignments either at the beginning or half-way through their work on their projects.  That way they could learn from the assessment and make sure they had the best possible project ready to turn in on the due date.


Mrs. Kovac liked Zac's idea and told the class that that was exactly what she would do.


What a great AFL idea.  Can you apply this to your classroom?  Is there a way you could give students examples of the work you are asking them to do?  Could you then train them to assess it the way you do?  Would this have any impact on the quality of the work the students did for you?  In my opinion, the answer to all of those questions is "Yes".

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