What can your class learn from Seven Eleven? Below I outline seven ways you can improve your class by examining what works at a typical convenience store. Well, I’m not talking about adding a slushy machine and rotating hot dogs on a grill to your room’s decor, however, I do believe convenience stores can challenge our thinking about learning environments, and help students learn even on days of cancellations. Maybe you think students deserve an experience better than a Seven Eleven? Awesome! I see that too, but hear me out.
Seven Eleven stores were originally called Tote’m stores because customers carried away or ‘toted’ their purchases. Then they re-branded themselves as “Seven Eleven” to emphasize their new extended hours of operation, from 7 AM to 11 PM, seven days a week. Now the stores are known for being open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Here are some ways Convenience-Store-Concepts can improve our classrooms:
- Re-brand Your Classroom to Reflect the Message You Want to Tell: The store was able to successfully rebrand itself several times, adapting to customer’s needs. They changed their model. Our classrooms tell a message and have a reputation, we can enhance it or change it at anytime. We do not need to do things the same way because we always have, we need to re-evaluate, improve and rebrand. What message does your class tell? What are your goals?
- Make Your Classroom Open 24 Hours a Day, Seven Days a Week: We are able to educate students seven days a week, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year using Learning Management systems like Google Classroom, Edmodo, YouTube, Schoology, and other tools. Sure, it is not as great as being in your classroom, but it helps. Snow Days, Cancellations, illness, and vacations can interrupt a student’s learning experience, but technology and virtual classrooms can offer tutorials, refreshers, resources and more to anyone at anytime. And… they help students, like me, who need to see the material a couple more times.
- Convenience: Seven Eleven as well as all ‘convenient stores’ aims to make shopping convenient for their customers. Too often in education we make learning “hard to reach.” Sometimes we create obstacles and challenges for our students. Let’s make learning convenient.
- Customer Service: These stores work hard, albeit sometimes unsuccessfully, to train their employees to treat the customer with great respect and to be helpful. Employees are trained to greet everyone as they enter, help them, thank them, inquire if they found everything. Shouldn’t these ideals be even more present in our classrooms? I believe so.
- Something for Everyone & Differentiation: You can buy a donut or a protein bar at a Seven Eleven. There are bags of almonds or candy bars. Water or an 80 ounce Big Gulp. The stores provide each customer with what they want and what they need. If you’re ill, they have cold medicine. If you your car is giving you trouble, they have a quart of oil. Our classrooms need to identify the needs of each learner and work to try and meet their individual needs through a variety of ways. Technology can assist this, but not replace teacher interaction. Discover ways to provide alternatives and choices.
- Speed: For the most part, you can get in and out of a Seven Eleven relatively quickly. I am not suggesting all learning needs to be fast, but we do live in high-paced world. We need to change activities in the classroom to keep the attention of the modern day learner. We need to get them “on the road” to relevance quickly. Put them in the driver’s seat as quickly as we can. This means less lecture. I am a great lecturer, but that does not mean that is the best way for students to learn, but it also doesn’t mean I need to give it up completely either. Check Challenge Based, or Project Based Learning. Look into Inquiry.
- Customer as Worker: Who makes the slushy, builds the hot dog, and pumps the gas at a Seven Eleven? You do! Have your students do some of the work in the classroom. You don’t have to do it all, and you shouldn’t. It’s their classroom. The pride they will take in helping out will translate into ownership of the learning. They can help build lessons, set-up Breakout EDU activities, build resources for your Google Classroom, capture video for YouTube tutorials and more. Have the students help you teach so everyone can learn more. Also, students want to make things. Everyone can create, and every student should. Get your students making. Make your classroom a place of action and wonder.