As a teacher in an elementary pull-out Gifted in Talented program, I meet with most of my students once a week. Making connections with my students is really important to me, and it can be hard to keep track of what is going on in the lives of 50+ children who I don’t see every day. Several years ago, I started implementing something called, “Share Time,” at the beginning of my classes. It wasn’t anything novel – just sitting in a circle and giving everyone the opportunity to tell us one thing that they really want to share. It could be about a birthday, an exciting adventure, an accomplishment – pretty much anything.
My classes are small, so this does not take a lot of time and I love getting glimpses of the lives of my students outside of school. As an added benefit, it helps to reduce the number of off-topic interruptions later in the day, especially with my younger students.
One thing that frustrated me about Share Time, however, was that the only one interested in the person sharing was me. The other students were so eager to speak that they rarely paid attention to their peers. Or, they would hear something that someone said and interrupt to share a similar experience.
So, this year I started something new. It’s probably one of those things that lots of teachers do, and it just took me 25 years to figure it out on my own. Now, we go around the circle twice. The second time gives students the opportunity to share something else, but there’s a hitch – it has to be based on something they heard from someone else in the circle.
For example, if one student says she is starting swim team this week, and 5 students start jumping up and down in their chairs to blurt out the same thing, they don’t. Now, they wait for their second turn, and say, “When Erica said she was starting swim team this week, that reminded me that I’m starting swim team, too! I’m on a different team, though – the Hammerheads.”
Implementing this simple addition to our Share Time has really brought it to another level. The students are more attentive to each other and there are far less interruptions. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but I thought it might be helpful for other teachers who have a similar routine in their classes.