We have instituted a new check-in system with the new year, and early reports are that it is wonderfully useful. On the face of it, the system is simplicity itself. Every week, I meet with each student twice, one-on-one.
The first meeting is twenty minutes long, and we always fill that time. We check in on what work is troublesome, edit writing, figure out what resources we need, and map what's ahead: long-term goals as well as immediate necessities. If there's additional time, I'll ask the student to go up to one of the whiteboards and show me a theory, plan, or project in which they are currently enmeshed. It was in this manner that I got more familiar with Ryan's regionally sensitive statistical measure of poverty, and with Aristea's planned art installation on theories of the fourth dimension.
The second conversation, which happens on Friday, is shorter, a follow-through on the earlier session. Here, we plan ahead for both the weekend and the week to come.
All of this is recorded in a document called Tutorials. Since we implemented all this, the kids have gotten in the habit of opening the Tutorials doc first thing in the morning. With separate tabs for each bi-weekly session, it serves as a detailed calendar of project work as well as a tracking method for the whole semester.
We can employ this method now because the kids are bow at a point when they need very little policing from me to get to work. While I'm meeting with one student, the other eleven are at work. The process, thus far, feeds itself.