EQUITY STICKS, by Ms. Lindsay Mouyal

While trying to help my student teacher, Susan, come up with a strategy to help her learn the 550+ student names I serve at two elementary schools, we came up with the idea to create "equity sticks." Susan's college supervisor made the suggestion to write student names on popsicle sticks and I had done this previously for select classes in years past. As mentioned in many classroom management books and blog posts, knowing your students and showing how much you really care is one of the most crucial and beneficial first steps in creating an encouraging classroom environment and working towards a successful classroom management plan.

At first I was skeptical that taking the time to create a cup or Ziploc bag with names for all classes and a stick with every student's name inside was the best use of our limited time; however after using them for almost two weeks now I can honestly say it was definitely worth it!

Once we started using the sticks we quickly realized that they not only have begun helping Susan remember student names, but they have also helped with classroom management in other ways. For one, it keeps students on their toes and more engaged when they see that instead of calling on students at random or calling on students who have their hands raised (which seemed to be the natural instinct of both my student teacher and myself) we would be drawing name sticks out of the bag at random. I even pointed out to the kids, when introducing the new system, that even I wouldn't know what name I would draw out of the bag. Susan told me that she overheard students whispering "I like that idea," and "Me too!" during one of the classes she introduced the equity sticks to. Another positive thing that came out of them is that once you pull a name out of the bag you set it aside and only call on students that haven't had a chance to share their ideas yet.

My students are already more engaged in class discussions and several students with whom I struggled to connect with on a more personal level (being that I only see most classes for 30 minutes a week) seem to view our interactions as more genuine and authentic.

Lindsay Mouyal is the art instructor for 2 Title I elementary schools in Alabama. She is National Board Certified, serves as the Birmingham Art Education Association Representative, was the AAEA Alabama Art Educator of the Year for 2013, and also currently serves at a local university teaching an art education methods course. 

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