How a 30-second exercise can save you 15 minutes or more

31 Oct

English: I am the author and the source of the...

 

Imagine that you have a choice of running in one of two races. In one race, the ref tells you, “It’s a 100-yard dash. See that finish line down there? Run until you pass it.”

 

In the other race, the ref says, “Run until I tell you to stop.”

 

Which race would you rather run in?

 

If you’re like most people, you’d prefer the first race because having a clear finish line makes the race seem exciting and achievable. Having no finish line makes the race seem daunting and annoying. It also makes you hate the referee.

 

Likewise, your students will be excited to work if they see the finish line clearly. If they know exactly what the class is about and precisely what they will learn by the end of the day, then they will be chomping at the bit to get started. If they don’t know what they are going to learn or how they are going to demonstrate that learning, then they are going to feel confused, aimless, and annoyed.

 

Try this 30-second exercise at the beginning of class each day, and I can guarantee you that it will save you up to 15 minutes of lost time in questions, foot-dragging, and misbehavior:

 

Write the day’s “finish line” up on the board before the students enter the room. (Make sure it’s a clear action that you expect the students to complete–“We will define topic sentence and write at least four topic sentences” is much better than “We will learn about topic sentences.”) Have a kid read the goal aloud and run a 30-second discussion on what the goal means.

 

It’s that simple. I guarantee that if you do it every day, kids will start coming into your class automatically excited, purposeful, and curious. And if you ever forget to write the finish line up on the board, your kids will definitely remind you.

 

After all, we all love the rush of crossing a finish line.

 

 

 

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