Know thy Learner - Engage, Connect, Learn

A new year, a blank canvas. Excited, enthusiastic ako enter the classroom,  filled with hopes, dreams and passions. Perhaps instead, they bring in fears, bad previous experiences and a lack of motivation. However, our goal as activators, rather than facilitator, a term I have adopted from Hattie, must be to enhance these passions and enthusiasm, to empower, motivate and encourage them to fly.

Taking the time to really get to know your learners, I believe, is the most valuable investment of all. Students who feel connected, valued and listened to are much more likely to be engaged, enthusiastic and willing to learn. A win win for all.

Term 1 2014 - getting to know each other

Ideally we learn each other's names first - through various icebreaker activities. Using a beach ball, we head outside and have mini competitions - record breaking hits to interact, collaborate and show learning does not just happen inside the classroom. Further tasks include:

- Getting to know each other - various activities / SWOT analysis / Passion Wheel

- Letter to teacher OR letter to future self - sealed, ready to open at the end of Year 13

- DO NOW activities - word builders, vocab, quizzles (ongoing)

- PAT Reading Comprehension / Vocabulary Data - students created SMART goals

- easTTle reading tests

- Three Way Conferencing preparation: TRUMP / Goal Setting

Another important task I reintroduced this year, was the Class Treaty, created and designed for the students, by the students. Their first task was to brainstorm, in groups, an ideal teacher and student. Likewise, their likes and dislikes in English. From there, students were able to negotiate the priorities for their class to design a treaty for us all to sign and abide by. Great timing as by then, Waitangi Day is upon us - perfect teachable moment.

Students set up expectations first

Taking the task seriously - student engagement and ownership

Defining the task - blended learning

An ideal student...
An ideal teacher...
English - some of our likes and dislikes
Collaborating to ensure that their Treaty reflect them
Each Class has their own signed Treaty   

For Fun

I like to bring the Key Competencies to life; to make them meaningful and applicable, I bring in bags of Minties ("it's moments like these"), dish them out and we have a competition. Who will create the longest wrapper? How? 
Over the years, I have seen the rippers, the cutters, the giver uppers, the competitors and the winners. All in all, though, they DO know and relate to TRUMP! (plus throw in a few dispositions - maybe another post).

Does it Work?

Taking the time to ensure that you know your ako certainly DOES work. By investing time into them, they are prepared to invest time in their studies and their future. I guess the best way to know for sure though, is to ASK your ako. I feel a Google Form being created... 
Watch this space.