At #TMC15 I shared my favorite of the “High 5”. Richard Villanueva is awesome enough to record them all and post, so I will just share the video of what I said. It is short and sweet:
There is the video. I want to stress a few points.
- Giving high fives to my learners absolutely changed me. I got 150 high fives every day. How can you NOT be in a great mood getting 35 high fives several times a day, every day.
- I am serious. I didn’t teach math. I taught people the subject of math. The high fives was just one step that demonstrated this philosophy.
- This was an evolution of my approach that on the first day of class scared me to death. I was freaked out and thinking that it was going to be a massive failure.
- I was wrong.
- It was the single thing I did all year long that had the greatest impact on my classroom environment, my relationship with my learners, and my own personal attitude.
I wrote about it last year as it occurred:
Before school started: August 10th: School started on the 11th.
I finally EARNED a high five from my one holdout: September 10th : This is the one high five I am most proud of.
That was last year. Then #TMC happened. After #TMC15, several teachers told me they were going to try it. We had several Twitter conversations about it at different times with different teachers. A sample is below. And this is ONLY a small sample of the more relevant tweets.
— Tami Llewellyn (@TamiLlewellyn) August 16, 2015
— Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) August 13, 2015
— Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) August 13, 2015
And here are some captured images from @misscalcul8. And finally:
Let’s pause and reflect a moment. What effort did it take me to give a high five? Very little. I had to get over my introvertedness. I had to fight my impulse to just stand there and say hi, and I had to make the effort to actually acknowledge each learner one at a time with the motion. I had to grab some hand sanitizer afterwards as I was walking into class. ….
Yea, that is really what it cost me. That’s it.
Not to diminish the fright / frustration / and uncomfortableness that the introversion creates, but getting over it did not damage me in any way.
What did I gain? My learners received the one on one acknowledgement from me every day. They walked into my classroom looking forward to the personal contact that went beyond the subject and touched them personally. Learners who were just standing in the hallway saw it and started asking for a high five every day. They recognized that it was something to get and feel good about themselves.
It changed my outlook on the class period. Every period be came a 1st period of the day. Every period was a “good morning” because every period started with 30 to 35 high fives. How could every period NOT be a fresh start, a clean slate, and a new beginning. It changed the class outlook towards me. I wasn’t just that weird math teacher (and I was) who wore strange socks everyday (because I did). I was also the math teacher who treated them like human beings. I also was the math teacher who acknowledged they were weird learners (because they were) who struggled with the ideas (because they did) and who needed the reassurance that if they kept trying they would get it (because they absolutely DID.)
The cost / benefit analysis there is pretty clear. What it cost me was very little. What I gained was huge. What my learners gained was even greater.
I am not teaching high school anymore. I am teaching college and the standards are different, the expectations are different, and the stakes are different. Guess what I am NOT going to give up. I think these outcomes are too valuable. It will definitely be a radical departure for the college setting. It is worth it.
Edit: Some research to back up why it works: http://www.teachers.net/wong/OCT13 More teachers on board! Yay!
— Jessica (@algebrainiac1) August 16, 2015
— Melanie (@mel6871) August 18, 2015
Gave every student a high five today – it was awesome! Thanks @gwaddellnvhs for the tip! Can’t wait to do it again tomorrow!
— Marissa W (@viemath) August 19, 2015
— Julie (@jreulbach) August 21, 2015
— Tami Llewellyn (@TamiLlewellyn) August 21, 2015
— Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) August 23, 2015
These next three go together. Wow, the power in these three tweets.
— Meg Craig (@mathymeg07) August 27, 2015
— Lisa Henry (@lmhenry9) August 27, 2015
Some Ss love ^5 so much they won’t leave class until they get one from me. Initial discomfort overcome for the win! @gwaddellnvhs
— Pam Patterson (@PamLPatterson) September 4, 2015
High fives at the door. Glenn’s “my favorite” has been popular for good reason. It is simple, but we have already discovered it is powerful. My colleagues and I decided to make it a department thing, and also roped in the two non-math teachers in our hallway. So the 200 hallway is officially the “high-five hallway” at our school. I am surprised by how something so small has already helped me feel more connected to my students, and how the classroom atmosphere gets an immediate boost. You just can’t be too grumpy after a high-five.
GREETING STUDENTS WITH HIGH FIVES – Intertwined with all of the mathy goodness of Twitter Math Camp this past July was a simple and powerful device for student engagement from my friend Glenn Waddell – the High Five.
— Paula Torres (@Lohstorres1) July 24, 2015
Each day last year, Glenn met his students at the door to give them a high five – a simple, caring gesture to establish a positive tone for class. I often meet students at the door before class or linger in the hallway for informal chat, but I love the tradition and rapport Glenn establishes here and hope to emulate it.
After five days of being at the door and high fiving students, students are positioning their books to be ready to give me a high five as they approach my class. I have had students high five me in the hall when I am not at my door and walking in the hallway (when I don’t have a class). It makes me smile.
This is only one paragraph of a much longer post by Lisa, but you get the sense right there something amazing is happening.
Stephanie Bower tried it too. Her post says so much about it.
Most of the time, the high-fives give me a chance to gauge the moods of each student in a split-second. (Glenn pointed this out too.) I can tell by the tone of their high-five, the way they return my verbal greeting, and their body language if something is “off” that day.
[And yes, that graphic is golden, and will be stolen and reused. Forever.]
Thank you @conniehamilton.