Tiny Conversations

Making my JHS students conversational is my #1 priority this year. It is a big change but it is done in the smallest of ways — through tiny conversations.

Is it a revolution? Maybe. But as Malcolm Gladwell would say, these things start with the smallest changes.

And small changes is what I’m after.

I figure this change takes about 5 minutes per class.

Anything more is understandably hard to swallow for some teachers. But all I’m after is 5 minutes.

5 minutes of direct questions to students where everyone can see and hear — and with lots of feedback, advice, comparisons and exchange.

It looks sort of like this, but varies every time:

Me:“Hey, what did you eat for breakfast?”
Student:“It’s had kome.”
Me:“Everyone, what is ‘kome’ in English?
Me:“Oh, I see. So you had rice?”
Me:“Let’s practice, everyone. ‘I had rice.’”
Everyone:“I had rice.”
Me: (To a new student) “Hey, what did you have for breakfast…”

Instead of a game, I want to give students a conversation. The conversation itself IS the game.

And it is a gift – a gift based on feedback, where mistakes are opportunities for everyone to learn. A gift where lingering mistakes are finally revealed and exercised.

Every class presents a chance for free talk time if it only takes a few short minutes. If we start small with our tiny conversations we can show the students and ourselves that even the most profound changes begin with smallest of words.