Step 6: Listen and adjust

So there'll come a day where you ask yourself - is any of this working? Do my students feel like they are part of something special? It's hard to know sometimes especially if you work with teenagers if they're feeling your class or not. Yes, you can generally tell if students respect you, but are they driven while in your classroom.

The best way to find out is to ease drop and to collect interpersonal data. I tell my students that if I have 100% of them working they can have what's called a "chatty-Mcchatterson" in which they can talk as long as they want about any school appropriate thing (they have to stay at their table) and they have to use a 4 inch level voice. When any of those rules are violated the chat session is over. It never, ever, ever has lasted more than 4 minutes and that wasn't until the end of the year. It usually lasts about a minute. Ease drop carefully and notice how comfortable students are talking to each other. If they don't talk - stop and do some community building games that week. Notice who is included into the conversation and who isn't. Who wants to participate but feels to shy. Notice your students and how much of their personality comes out in your classroom. If you want more participation, if you want them to bring their fully present selves (and you do if you want them to have a transformational experience) facilitate it for them. Listen to them and see how well it's working. Then adjust, build something special in your classroom. Frankly - if you students, like mine, have spent several years in failing, unsafe classrooms wherein they don't work - you need to create something different for them. Do it by listening.