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Lee HS teacher builds trust with connection exercises

2013 November 21
by HISD Communications

Dahirou Ndiaye asks students to tell him one "good thing" on the way into class to set a positive tone

Before his Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics students at Lee High School get down to the business of learning each day, math teacher Dahirou Ndiaye sets a positive tone in his classroom with an exercise he calls “good thing” that fosters a sense of connection among his pupils.

Students are asked to share something positive going on in their lives, whether it’s a recent birthday celebration, a relative’s new job, or a college acceptance letter they just received. 

“The first time I asked students to raise their hands, I only had one person per class,” said Ndiaye. “But after a few weeks, I started to see more. It totally changes the atmosphere of the class right from the beginning to a very positive climate. And students who are shy or don’t usually speak out start to share as well. Now, if I try to start the lesson without ‘good thing,’ the kids remind me.”

Ndiaye has noticed other benefits to starting class with “good thing,” such as a marked improvement in students’ listening skills.

“Many students at Lee face several challenges in their lives,” said Ndiaye. “So I use ‘good thing’ to change the atmosphere of the classroom. Students are exposed to each other’s positive stories, and hopefully, they start to believe that they can also find good things in their lives.”

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