Motivating Students

hype

high5

The Power of the High Five

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Human beings are social creatures. As such, we feed off the energy of others and likewise, our own behavior will go on to impact those around us. This creates a feedback loop where the individuals in a room collectively respond to and themselves influence the behavior of those around them.

 

As teachers there is almost no greater tool at our disposal than how we interact with our students. The most subtle interactions – from the way we speak, the choices of words we use, to the facial expressions we wear – these all influence the feelings of the students in our room.

 

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If we metacognate on this, the logical conclusion is that we can, through careful consideration of actions and words, greatly influence the students we teach, and thus, their learning. The real question then becomes – can we do it?

 

Meta-cognition is one thing – in this case, realizing a new way to act with our students – taking the next step and changing the way we act, that’s a whole new level of challenge.

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I started off the school year with a simple goal – to fundamentally change the way I interact with my students. I wanted to be more open and honest with them, show them I care about them, and get them excited to be in my class by showing them that I was excited for them to be there.

 

The high five was a critical piece to this transformation. It wasn’t everything by any means, but it was the catalyst for a year of transformation in my teaching. Every day I would greet my students at the door – as I had for the previous seven years – but this year started on the first day with a high five for each student.

 

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It is hard to even put into words how something so seemingly simple can generate such a powerful response. The high five allows students to lower their guard as they realize their instructor cares about them and is excited about what they are doing. It generates hype. Before you know it, the entire class – or even better, the entire school – hops on board the hype train and everybody is excited about being at school.

 

A coworker recently made a powerful observation – it’s practically impossible to give somebody a high five without both people smiling. Try it out and consider the possibility of transforming the world around you into a place where everything begins with a high five and a smile.

 

Richard Newton

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