Speed-Dating with Students, Prizes & Stickers: Induction Week

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Got off to a flying start with two lovely classes of anxious yet bubbly, vibrant, and bursting out all over 16-19 year olds in our FE induction week yesterday.

I must confess it’s the first time I’ve ever had classes from scratch. And I loved it. They seemed happy, too. Everyone left smiling, and having got to know others in the class more, which was the aim for sessions this week as encouraged by our new HoL, @stuartallen14 (please follow him, Twitter – he deserves far more followers than he currently has).

@stuartallen14 led a directorate kick-off meeting in advance of the new academic year last week and shared a video with snippets of previous students, who said that what had really helped them stay on the course was the help they’d been given right from the off in making friends in induction week. So @stuartallen14 gave us a big push to lead activities to focus on that from the off. I put my thinking cap on.

Emails then zapped back and forth between the staff team focussing on induction week sessions. My four penneth included recommending speed-dating (what can I say, I’m very experienced, ahem), and if possible squeezing in my Growth Mindset YouTube video and a quick hit on inspirational people to link to good attitudes towards learning. I also moved house last week so instead of taking a bunch of my stuff to the charity shop I decided to dish out a selection of DVDs, books and notebooks as prizes (I’m hoping the novelty factor made up for any lack of harmony with 16-19 year old tastes).

My first class only got the speed-dating as we went down to the Freshers’ Fair for the first half hour of our session, but I tried to turn that into as much fun as possible; I said whoever got the most free stuff could choose a further prize from my crate. A clear winner emerged with one girl jubilantly spilling all her freebies onto the desk in front of her when she got back into the room, face beaming.

To run the speed-dating I gave each student a number, 1 or 2, and got number 1s to sit on chairs on the outside of a U shaped table formation. Number 2s had to sit in a chair opposite number 1s, on the inside of the U. To prepare, students had to then draw a quick table, to collect names of other students they met along the top row of the grid, and then other bits of info about that person in the column underneath (see image below for the example I put up on the whiteboard to help them do this). There were 20-odd students in each session so they had roughly 10 or 11 other students to ”meet” during the session. I suggested a range of questions to ask the other student: where are you from? Which school did you go to? Tell me about your friends. Any pets? Favourite film, music and food, etc. Your first kiss??? That last one caused a few laughs. It turned into a yes or no answer for some, and more interesting and fun tales from others. I adapted the list of questions when I ran it in the second session to include a celebrity crush. The most interesting response that came back in response to that question was, “Olaf” (from Frozen). It takes all sorts.

Students had three minutes to talk to the person sitting opposite them, and then I told all those sitting on the inside of the U to move round one chair to the right (clockwise), then they each had to interview their new partner. I kept it going until everyone on the inside had sat opposite everyone on the outside and they were finally back in their original places. The outcome was that lots of students had met and got to know lots of other new ones a little bit. The ice was definitely broken. Everyone happy. I also dished out a sticker to everyone, praising their effort… I know some Twitter folk are a bit anti-stickers, but it’s amazing the positive feeling getting a sticker generates. Even for 16-19 year olds. I also told them they were my favourite class so far… I’m experimenting with this.

For the group that I had a bit more time with, as I mentioned above, I ran a bit on Growth Mindset, inspirational people, and dished out some prizes from my amazing crate of stuff. Incidentally, I was amazed that one girl chose a tiny notebook from the crate instead of any books or DVDs or even a digital radio.

For the bit on Growth Mindset, I asked students to brainstorm what attitudes would make them successful learners at college, to try and get between 5 and ten different points. I said the first pair to get ten points could get a crate prize. We had a winning duo very quickly, who then shared back with the group. I wrote their ten on the board, and asked others for any they missed. One girl chose a flowery diary from the crate, and the other a rom-com DVD.

I then played the growth mindset YouTube video, which highlighted some attitudes they might not have thought of: http://youtu.be/BP8T_wR5UBo – After it had been played I asked them what attitudes were mentioned and left them to absorb that.

For the remainder of the lesson I set a quick version of the inspirational people task: find it in my blog at 3 Inspirational People: Inspire Students & Teach Grit & Growth Mindset | Carol’s Learning Curve:
https://carolslearningcurve.wordpress.com/2014/08/25/3-inspirational-people-inspire-students-teach-grit-growth-mindset/

In the quick version I ran through my three choices of inspirational people, asked students if and what they knew about these people first (very impressed that most knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States, and that one girl knew about his teeth…), highlighted briefly why they were inspirational and what qualities they had and showed as people through their lives. I then asked students to talk in pairs about a person they thought was inspirational, and to say why, and to be persuasive. They all got into the task and a handful were willing to speak to the rest of the class to explain their choices. Each of those doing that got a prize from the crate. Everyone got a sticker, everybody happy… My favourite class so far 🙂

I’m running this session a few more times this week… Hope I don’t run out of prizes and stickers 🙂

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