Monday, May 5, 2014

Entrance is a Privilege!

The exit ticket is a tool I use on occasion in order to get a quick assessment at the end of the class period.  Each student is challenged to perform under the condition that he or she is not finished with class until having answered correctly.  Every time I use this tool I am surprised at the intensity with which students attempt to complete the given task.  The incentive to be finished is apparently a strong one.

Several weeks ago I observed a math teacher who put a brilliant twist on the exit ticket by turning it into an entrance ticket.  Before the start of every class he stood outside the door to his room armed with a stack of flash cards.  His students were not allowed to physically enter the room until they had individually answered a question correctly.  As I watched his students eagerly answer in order to be allowed into his room, several things became clear about the nature of his class.  Here are just a few of them:

1. The students wanted to be there.  The incentive that had them working so hard was not to be finished, but to get started!

2. Students were reviewing and giving feedback to their teacher well before the bell for class rang.  Talk about setting the tone for a hard-working class!

3. This exercise demanded 100% participation from the get-go.  Entrance to class was a privilege that a passive non-participant could not earn.

While an entrance ticket may not be logistically practical or even possible for every teacher, I invite you to join me as I take a hard look at how my classes begin.  What can you do to up your game at the start of class?  What simple steps can you take to communicate to students that their time spent in class will be worthwhile and that hard work and high expectations are for everyone?   Try to find something concrete and simple that you can work into your routine and eventually turn into habit.  Give it a try and see what you can learn!

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