Book Review: The First 10 Minutes

As an educator-writer myself, I very much appreciate Steve Reifman’s perspective and advice gleaned from years of teaching. The title of his new eBook jumped out at me: The First 10 Minutes: A Classroom Routine that Reaches and Teaches the Whole Child.

Steve is a third grade teacher, so my review will consider his technique’s usefulness for adult education instructors. First of all, it is a great approach for classes with cohorts where you have a longer term relationship. It requires a bit of commitment and training at the beginning of a class to get the students used to this method. But once students know what to expect, this 10 minute approach is a very efficient and effective set of “ice breakers.”

Without giving away the book, I will let you know that Steve has developed a three-part routine that accomplishes three goals: check in with students emotionally, tap their motivation, and get their bodies and brains moving. The best part of this method is that it’s fresh each day. He has integrated research-based best practices with some best-seller approaches to “life-hacking” to provide a centering routine that doesn’t get stale and boring. And I’m amazed that he’s able to do it all in 10 minutes! Often when I have ice breakers, they take 15-20 minutes each and only accomplish one of those three goals.

The big difference between Steve’s experience as a third grade teacher and mine as an adult educator is the length of expected time with students. He has all day for a full year…my most involved class ever was two hours, four times per week. Adult education students also have many more time commitments which result in more sporadic attendance, frequent tardiness, and shorter classes or length of time in a program. As a result, I would have to choose one of his “motivation” options that does not involve so much initial commitment. Also I would try to design some method where students who were late or missed a day could still access what happened in the first 10 minutes, otherwise I anticipation they would interrupt other students to try and catch up.

As a whole, Steve’s First 10 Minute approach sound like the kind of activities that my students would really appreciate. Although they are so results-driven, at the same time adults at times crave this type of socio-emotional connection with peers even more than children, because adults are usually expected to care for their own emotional needs.

Just released as a Kindle eBook, The First 10 Minutes is a quick read, definitely worth the price, and would give any good instructor some ideas and a window into an effective classroom in action. Check it out!

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