Tuesday, September 07, 2010

buy in

There are a multitude of ways to build relationships with teenagers when you are a high school teacher. But one of the most effective ways to jump start that relationship building is to create "buy in." You, as the teacher, create an opportunity for the students to emotionally invest in your class, or in you, while at the same time, you, the teacher, do the same thing for the students. Some might argue that teachers have already demonstrated their "buy in" by being teachers. But we have all experienced teachers who were present but not invested and "buy in" is all about being invested. You know, caring about the things that matter to someone else. So, for high school teachers, caring about the things that teenagers care about.

The teacher for advanced placement United States History (A PUSH as it's known to the Juniors who take the class) announced on the first day of class that anyone who sang the Star Spangled Banner during the next class would get a "free" homework pass. A particular student who plays trombone convinced the A PUSH teacher to let the band kids (a flute, 2 french horns, and the trombone) play the Star Spangled Banner for that credit. Teacher said, "fine."

Great buy in for both the band kids, who have been playing in band for 5 years, and the teacher.

But wait, there's more.

Side note: Band kids playing instruments outside of band class or pep rallies or other band sanctioned events risk fines and imprisonment. Well, really, they'll get in trouble with the band director. I don't know if the history teacher knew this fact. Regardless, permission to play instead of sing helped with the buy in.

So, on the appointed day, 4 band kids bravely sneak their instruments, three of which are kind of hard to hide, to the A PUSH class and play the Star Spangled Banner. Keep in mind they have been playing this song almost weekly during football season for years. They can play it well from memory in their sleep. So, of course, they do a fabulous job. Amazingly, to the band kids who consider this task one of the easiest things ever, the class cheers! The teacher cheers loudest of all.

Then, he says, "Hey, can you do that again?"

The band kids shrug, "duh."

"Come with me," as the teacher leads them across the hall to the AP European history class (Seniors only), interrupts class and says, "Hey Mrs. History, you all have to hear this!" Where the band kids, play again. And the European history class cheers and claps.

It was the highlight of the first week of school for the SportsQueen.

She bought in.


kathrynzj said...

Nice! What a great memory too and awesome way to kick off the school year.

Martha said...

That is a great story! LP starts part one of AP US history tomorrow, hope she has such a smart teacher.

Anonymous said...

That's just cool! Can you imagine if every student had just one teacher a year who invested in them and gave them the opportunity to buy in?
Thanks for sharing this story!

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