“When you’re in motion, you’re planning and strategizing and learning. Those are all good things, but they don’t produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome.” - James Clear
You ever wonder what students are actually doing when they are supposed to be working on a long-term project? Many students get stuck in a cycle of motion: planning, replanning, and then planning some more. As an educator, I struggled to move students from motion to action because I had little visibility into their progress and process. This lack of transparency created silos, where students struggled to collaborate with both me and their classmates. And when I did meet one on one with a student, we would just be going over their plans, stuck in that cycle of motion. That time would have been better used to determine the next steps rather than reviewing their plans. To address these challenges in my project-based classes, I turned to a micro check-in framework. Frequent micro check-ins do two things: create a high level of transparency and foster a culture of accountability. In this article I will break down the how-to of creating micro check-ins in your classroom.
In a basic micro check-in, learners and teachers meet for 5 minutes each week. This should be a show-not-tell meeting where learners present evidence of their progress and discuss their plan for the upcoming week. Three quick prompts:
What happens when you don’t do micro check-ins?
Check-ins morph the culture of your classroom into an environment where learning is relevant, worth sharing, and documentable. They build a sense of accountability and visibility amongst learners, creating a communal learning atmosphere. They give each learner a window into everyone’s process and outcomes.
Go asynchronous: Even with weekly 5 minute check-ins, learners can get stuck for an entire week, flustered by an obstacle that a teacher could quickly help them surmount. Asynchronous check-ins mimic a real-world workflow, and help speed up the mentoring process.
Find a digital platform (your LMS’s discussion board, Asana, Trello, Unrulr) for learners to post check-ins. Check-ins should be shared with not only teachers, but peers as well. Use those check-ins to drive the conversation at the beginning of each class – some of the most powerful learning can occur between peers. Regular, asynchronous sharing creates a culture of transparency, allowing learners to be taught and inspired by their fellow learners (ZOPED for the win!!).
My goal in education is to create a classroom environment where students feel the content and skills they are gaining are relevant to their personal and professional growth. To do this I put learners in the driver's seat. Micro check-ins are a key part of giving students agency: they allow learners to own their process and product creation. In my biased opinion, Unrulr allows this to be more authentic, transparent, and purposeful. Later in this series I’ll show you how.
Book a demo or create an Unrulr account today.