Check it out here: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.
There were so many great tidbits of information and I couldn't help but think about my classroom while reading. Here are some of the ideas I will be taking back to my lessons this fall:
1) Decide why you're really gathering.
- Once you have an answer, ask 'why' again, and again, until you get down to the real reason you are all there. For some students, they're there because they were forced to show up. But why are you there? And why are you there on this particular day? I like to think of this as our objectives for the day/period. Go deep people, deeper. Why are you and your students gathering today?
2) Don't be a chill host.
- I've been working on this for some time at school. It's actually the most stressful part of teaching for me. In a nutshell this means that if you don't take control of the classroom, someone will. And we all know that it won't be pretty. I love her quote in the book, "Chill is selfishness disguised as kindness". Yes, the students describe me as kind, but in the beginning of my career they did not describe me as being in control. How are you going to be in control?
3) Create a temporary alternative world.
- In this part of the book, the author goes into a section about etiquette vs. pop-up rules; and this is where a light bulb when on for me. I knew this, but it never sank in. Etiquette is a way for people to behave within a certain region in order to help life run smoothly. Pop-up rules are rules that are created for that event only; once the event is over, the rules are gone too. I need to think of the classroom just full of pop-up rules. Etiquette cannot be assumed anymore. For example: talking while the teacher is talking. During my upbringing it was rude if a person interrupted someone else (my mom called us but-in-skis) or talked during a presentation, however, many of students (and I'll admit colleagues) don't see this as rude.
- The other take-away I got from this section of the book was to totally immerse the students in the day's lesson. Is there a way to get my students to forget about the outside world and be completely here?
4) Never Start a Funeral with Logistics.
- The main idea here is that the opening and closing of your class are opportunities to capture your students' attention. Keep announcements out of there. Can announcements be address at a different part of your lesson?
- Your gathering doesn't begin when it begins....it begins when the guests first hear about it. Is there a way to get your students excited about your class before it actually begins?
- Can you name your class? And I don't mean 'Algebra 1', how about something like, "Cans vs. Soda Stream"?
- Ushering. What should your students be doing while they are waiting for class to begin? If you don't have something for them to do, they will find something to do and you may not like it.
- Go above and beyond. Parker gave an example of a teacher who learned all the students names before school started. He (or she) knew all of their names and faces from the files given to them by the school district and knew each student by name as they entered his (or her) class.
5) Keep your best self out of my gathering.
- This one is perfect for the classroom. It is basically asking attendees to leave their egos at home. She suggests that we can get more accomplished if we let down our guard and stop trying too hard to impress each other. How can you create an environment where students feel safe taking chances and making mistakes?
6) Accept that there is an end.
- Remember to create a bridge for you students from your classroom to the real world. Especially at the end of the year. I made a huge mistake with that this year...I never said goodbye to my students. Our schedule for finals was strange this year and the year ended, but yet it didn't. I didn't realize that that day was the last that I would see my students until the day was over. I actually felt sick to my stomach that the year ended and I didn't even acknowledge it. How can you make the end of the year special and memorable for your students?
I really enjoyed this book. If you get the opportunity to read it, I recommend that you do so.