Three years ago as I joined my amazing school on their connections journey, I saw the importance our faculty and staff placed on connecting with our students. As a school counselor that has a focus on connecting, I wanted to support the adults in school by giving ideas and strategies to them that would help create these connections.
One of the first strategies that I shared with my school was the "Two by Ten" strategy. (I didn't come up with the strategy, but I believe in it!)
The "Two by Ten" strategy is spending 2 minutes a day for 10 consecutive days getting to know and building a relationship with a student.
Here are a few links explaining more about the strategy:
While each of the articles linked above discusses how the "Two by Ten" strategy can lead to better student behavior. I believe the key is not behavior changes by the student necessarily. Student behavior changes are a result of something way more meaningful and longer lasting.
When we consciously choose to put our time, energy, and emotion into building a relationship with another human being, multiple things happen....
1. That positive energy and emotion changes OUR attitude and OUR perspective about the other person and/or our relationship with that person. It's the same lesson we learn from Tom Rath's How Full Is Your Bucket? Simply stated, when we work to support, recognize, praise, and show others that they matter, we know it fills their bucket and this also fills our bucket too. It's why we have that good feeling when volunteer and provide service to others. So when we have a more positive outlook on a student and/or our relationship with that student, then our interactions and conversations with that student change and become more positive too. Of course, in return, our students interact and speak in a more positive manner with us as well.
2. I've found that many of our students may be used to an adult in school attempting to build a relationship with them. Unfortunately, they may also be used to experiencing only a few attempts, before that adult quits trying. I believe as educators, the adults that guide our students through their educational journey, it is our responsibility to continue to reach out to our students and build connections with them. We cannot give up on them.
Some of the students who need to find a connection the most, make it the most difficult to connect to them and as educators we must not give up on them!
Some of the students who need to find connection the most, will do everything in their power to get you to give up and as educators we must not give up on them!
Some of the students who need connection the most, can also frustrate us the most because it can seem like all of our efforts are not making an impact at all. And as educators we must not give up on them!
The "Two by Ten" is a great strategy that helps lead to a habit of educators spending consistent time building relationships with students. This consistent effort to connect with students builds trust and helps students learn that there are adults in school who aren't going to give up on them. They need the proof that we won't be like everyone else who they believe have thrown in the towel and written them off.
3. By spending time getting to know and bonding with a student consistently over the 10 days ( or more days...even better!), we learn more about them as people and about their lives outside of school. Often times what we learn, helps us truly understand the behaviors we see from our students. It gives us compassion for students which often changes OUR behaviors and reactions to the student's behavior. When the educator's behaviors and reactions change then we often see the student's behavior change as a result.
When I can make that connection with a student then I am a better school counselor because then I am able to connect them with their education in a more impactful way. Anytime I have struggled with a student's attitude, behavior, or had a difficult interaction with them, I go to the "Two by Ten" strategy as a starting point for repairing that relationship struggle.