Step 5: Keep Building

The very first homework assignment you give should be a student survey (you can download an example from our "store" but it's way better if you write it and include questions you care about). Get basic information like their home phone number, their parents cell phone numbers (and be sure to send parents a survey too), how they like to learn, what they're good at, what they like, what they excel at. Then, for good measure ask them a couple of would you rather questions that are silly - just to be extra engaging. I always have my students complete a "Dream Sheet" (they fill in 9 dreams they have for their future, the 10th, I'll ask them to add in a few weeks) that I post in the classroom. I refer to their dreams and contextualize lessons by telling them how they connect to their dreams.

In the parent survey, ask straight up things and make yourself available. Often times parents who are working two jobs and raising kids don't have time or energy for long phone calls, but texting or emailing can be a handy way around that (I had a student who had a tough time with focus in my class, I'd just open up a text to his mother and start writing it, and he's fix the problem himself. It's all about having the right motivation folks).

The point here is, don't stop building relationships. Don't stop putting yourself out there, don't stop asking kids who they work for and don't stop engaging. I don't really know what works for kids in wealthy schools and that's cool. I do know that feeling like part of something that works against poverty and violence and white supremacy is crucial for students of color in low-income schools. Keep building and fighting. If you need motivation, tool, strategies or love - ask for it. You can start with us.