25 Minutes A Week With 8 Middle School Students

My contact time with students in my current role is virtually nil but I have a weekly 25 minute block with 8 MS students in what we call “Koti” time. Koti is “home” in Finnish. The guidelines for koti are broad and what actually transpires varies from koti to koti with the different student dynamics. In essence, depending on the koti adivsor, it can be a place to discuss school issues, to eat food, to relax, to read, etc. It’s pretty open to what the koti members want. It goes hand in hand with our school mission catalysts of Wellness and Belonging.

I started my first koti last week and as I’m not teaching any of these students wanted to get two things sorted in our first 25 minutes:

  1. For them to know me and me to know them. In broad strokes.
  2. What were the students expectations for this weekly time together?

i.  Nothing crazy. I just made a table in a Google Doc with my name and the students names and made some general info headers so that we could all get a general vibe for each other. I got them all to finish this in their own time. Not a fan of pressuring MS students to verbally tell a group of their peers what makes them who they are.

ii. This was more of a gamble. I didn’t know how engaged they would be. Our school just simplified our mission into three words; Inclusive, Challenging, Engaged. So I wanted the students to come up with three words for our koti group mission. I started by writing two sentences which I thought koti could be and asked for more sentences to explore further avenues. Through this, I found out what they did last year and what they liked about their koti group last year and what things they would like to explore this year.

From these sentences I got a group consensus of three powerful words that would be our mission for this year.

I don’t want to have to struggle to come up with things this year but I also don’t want a messy and unstructured time together so I will use these three words to guide what we do. Thankfully “food” didn’t make it or my calorie intake would skyrocket. My plans for the first few weeks include:

  1. getting reactions and thoughts (action plans?) on our self-study student survey data.
  2. playing some quick card games I bought (One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Codenames Pictures) which will rely on creative strategies!
  3. trying to create a RELAXING environment where students can bring up issues in school they want to solve or just discuss.
  4. doing activities that will build relationships – broad! Hopefully everything we do will develop relationships!

I will get back with some reflections after a couple of months.

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