The neighborhood where my students come from can be full of negativity. My students need to learn how to support each other and accept the mistakes that come with the natural process of learning. Synergy is a strategy that is a core element of my blended model; it defines and reinforces the behaviors that successful teams use to work together to overcome a problem. Synergy has four basic expectations: 1) Push each other's thinking; 2) Share the load; 3) Use Accountable Talk; and 4) Move with speed. I use these expectations in a quick evaluation of each group every time we do group work, and the "winning group" receives a small prize, which reinforces my academic and social expectations and incentivizes friendly competition.
At the end of the day, there have been ups and downs, but the focus should be on improvement. The Class Ratings are when the students rate the class on each of our 5 character and mindset pillars. While I have input, I encourage the students to be honest with themselves and take responsibility if they showed or lacked the pillars at any point. Reflecting on the day's specific moments helps to create a classroom of trust, and a culture of accountability. It is also essential to developing a shared character language that can be refered to throughout the day.
Carpet Transitions is a process where students walk from their desks to the carpet (or another location) for the next activity. Expectations and directions are explicitly laid out, and we evaluate how our transitions go. As we perform these transitions more and more, we emphasize our efficiency and use of our time. Through this process, we make the most of our learning time and ensure students transition safely.
My students work independently and in groups using different learning modalities in my blended learning classroom every day. I have developed mechanisms that allow me to get the attention of the entire class when I need to make important announcements, clarify widespread misconceptions, or re-focus the class. Yo, Yo Class! is a call-and-response mechanism that allows me to get the attention of the class quickly. This strategy also taps into youth culture in order to instill a sense of ownership of the class among my students.