Raise your hand if you drink some form of glorious caffeinated liquid. Is your hand raised? Ok good mine too! For sure I drink at least 3 cups of hot tea every morning. I'm also a huge Rae Dunn fan and have my own set of what I like to call "school mugs" in my classroom. Insert my husband's eye rolls here. My student's love to see what word is on my cup on a daily basis. In fact it became a talking point during our morning's.
One night I got to thinking. I should turn this little chat time into a way to connect with all of my student's on a daily basis. Thus I started calling it my Sip & Chat time. Do my student's know that it's Sip & Chat time? No. For all they know, and all I want them to know, is that I am sitting down with them at a table, on the floor, in a bean bag and simply just talking to them while they work on their morning work. Not assessing them (because we do that enough!) and not trying to get anything out of them, just simply chatting. There were conversations that I had where I was like "Holy moly I did not know this." or "Wow that's a way for me to connect with this hard to connect with kid." I make sure that I document our conversations via my iPad and my Apple Pencil. Do you have to document your conversations during this time? Of course not. Does it help you look back and sometimes "connect the dots" with a child? Absolutely.
So if you're thinking, "I don't have time for this in my morning/afternoon. We have so much we are expected to fit into our day that simply sitting down and talking with my student's is not in the cards." Here's what I say to that...
The single most important thing that you can have with a student is a relationship. A positive relationship with a student is going to go further than the four walls of your classroom. That positive relationship can also help you move mountains! Test scores and gains on assessments are important but even more so are your student's positive self worth and social emotional well being.
How To Start A Sip & Chat
First things first. Determine what time of day works for YOU. I have my Sip & Chat time first thing in the morning while my student's are working on their paperless morning work. My student's have about 30 minutes every morning from the time that they can enter our room until we get started with our morning meeting. This is their time to put things away, complete their white board message, and start their morning work. It is my time to greet student's, take attendance, and simply chat with them. If you do not have a ton of time in the morning find a time in you day where your kids are independently working for between 15-20 minutes and you are not expected to also be pulling groups during this time.
What Should A Sip & Chat Look Like?
Sip & Chat can look how you want it to look! You can even have your student's drinking their water bottles with you if you wanted. You can sit in on spot in your room and chat with student's. You can move around your room fluidly and sit with student's. You can have a schedule (for yourself-not one that the student's know) on what days you speak to what student's. As long as the over arching goal of being present, communicating, and having an open dialogue with a student are there, then you have achieved the goal of a Sip & Chat. You should never go into this thinking "I'm going to get information from this child that will be mind blowing!" The truth is you won't all of the time. Are you helping build trust with that student. Yes! Are you letting that student know that you are human too and not just their teacher. Absolutely! Ultimately you are building a positive relationship that will last a lifetime!
How Much Time Do I Spend Chatting?
Again, this is totally up to you and the time that you have available during your day. I normally try to stay between 3-4 minutes a student and I aim to get to 4-5 student's a day. Some days I can get to more and other days I may only get to chat with two student's. My student's can enter our classroom at 8:45 a.m and have until about 9:15 a.m for morning work time which is also the amount of time that I have for Sip & Chat time.
What If A Student Doesn't Want To Talk?
We all have student's who are shy or simply opening up to other's is just not easy for them! Here's where knowing that student is going to come in handy. If you sit down to chat with a student and you are not getting much from them you could always try a game called "This or That". For example, show the student two pictures of say a strawberry and a banana-or you can simply say strawberry or banana. Next, ask them which they would prefer. Some kids may just point to the one they would choose while other's will verbally tell you their choice and why. You now at least have a starting point for a conversation of where to go with this student. Let's say they chose strawberry. You could then start the conversation by saying "I've been to a strawberry patch to pick strawberries before! I went with my son's and my youngest son only wanted to eat all of the strawberries while my oldest was trying to have the fullest bucket. Where is somewhere fun you've been?" If all you get from that conversation is that you now know they like strawberries, then you have a starting point for future conversations and you've started building trust with that student.
How To Document Conversations
As I mentioned above you do not need to document your Sip & Chat conversations. I do, however, feel that documenting is a great way to connect with student's and sometimes can even help you help a student with an issue. It also helps me to remember what that student said.
I use my iPad to take notes during our Sip & Chat conversations. You can use the app Noteability to take notes on your iPad or any other note taking app. You can also import a PDF into iBooks and write simply on the PDF that way (what I do often). You can then email these notes to yourself if needed. You can also keep a binder with your observation pages and resources for your Sip & Chat time as well if you did not want to or were unable to go digital.
Sip & Chat Resources
If you are looking to get started with Sip & Chat in your classroom and would like a resource to help you, you can head HERE to take a look at what all is included! Sip & Chat Google Forms are now included for you to send out to student's via Google Classroom as a way to still keep Sip & Chat going during distance learning!
As always, if you ever have any questions please feel free to DM me on Instagram (@elementarylittles), send me a message on Facebook, or the old fashioned way-email! I would love to hear about how Sip & Chat is done in your classroom!