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Thursday, September 1, 2016

I'm listening even when I'm not listening

Sometimes I do things without knowing how much they might matter.

This story is about one of those moments.

As I have probably stated too many times, my students and I are participating in NaNoWriMo.

Thursday, on a whim, I posted a poll question in Classroom as our Do Now.

I asked students how they were feeling about our novel project.

The choices were:


*Excited and nervous

*I don't know yet

*Scared but willing to try

*Completely overwhelmed

I wasn't sure what the results might be.

My hope was just to learn how students were adjusting to the idea of becoming novelists.

The results were actually a pleasant surprise with the majority firmly in the middle.
Most selected the "I don't know yet."

A couple are clearly excited and a couple, I think, are genuinely scared.

We looked at the overall results as a class.

I kept it short and simply explained why I asked the question and made sure they understood they are not alone.

Later, as I was reflecting on the day, I realized that I wanted to do more for the kids who are the least confident.

By the by, this scenario is made possible only because Google Classroom is so totally nerdtastic.

I went into Classroom and looked up who had answered "Completely overwhelmed."

There were one or two in each class.

The names were telling...and some were, well, not what I would have guessed.

Based on those names and the size of the task ahead, I decided to send each of them a private email message.

Each kid's message was essentially the same: don't worry, I will help you, you can do this, I'm scared too.

Each kid's message was also as personalized as I could make it...based on what I have learned about them so far.

It didn't take long and I didn't think too hard about it.

Sounding natural adds authenticity and believability, to such messages.

The next day, I tried to remember to privately ask those kids to make sure they checked their email.

And this was my good thing:

I kept an eye on the kids as they read those emails.

The reactions were subtle...a little shy eye contact, a slight loosening of tension in the shoulders, a hint of smile.

Each hour as the students filed out, I made sure to say a little something to those kids.

"I'm listening even when I'm not listening" with a wink and a smile.

Every single one of them responded positively.

Each one said or did something that showed appreciation for the reassurance I offered.

They are, of course, still terrified.

But I felt validated in my attempts to build student relationships.

And if they believe in me, even when they doubt themselves, I can believe in them enough for all of us.

Reassurance and belief are both very good things.

1 comment:

What do you think? Does this good thing remind you of a story of your own? Have a question or comment? Please leave a comment!