Sunday, January 10, 2010

Branding your "Starbucks" Classroom for Success

"It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see." Henry David Thoreau

So wasn't Thoreau a thoroughly wonderful Brand Visionary? On this NYC Sunday, let me think Branding as a classroom tool I'm tossing this notion into the discussion about Branding in Education...

" Is there room for Third Place Messages in the Writing Classroom?"

Starbucks does it with branding. The colors, the furniture, the baristas! That's what makes it possible to march up to a register in any Starbucks and proudly order a Grande mocha no whip skim latte without a blink! You feel supported by what you see and what people are doing in the space. It looks familiar. You are entering a No Risk Zone. It's so familiar, Make Yourself at Home should appear on the door! But it doesn't have to really, we know we are.

In a writing classroom, the same can be true. It can be the one place in school where students might feel the endless possibilities for their branding growth, knowing themselves. Like any iconic brand, make relationships real...Support students through familiar landmarks. Plan thoughtfully for creating a third place environment, a place where students feel capable, comfortable and creative. These are the Third Place messages that appear in the Coffee Culture world.

Using the "Cafe Kulture" brand for writing...

Teachers should adopt the term branding as part of pedagogy as well. By thinking visual branding, imagine what familiar sights and sounds can be part of your "Café Kulture" classroom?

Brand your classroom for Writing Success....

Design the space. Coffee houses are designed for movement and well as for comfort. Use the help of students to create the room arrangement, either before school starts or at any time of the school year. Students can draw up plans for physical arrangement of desks, bookcases. Treat this as a problem-solving piece. It's often best to have the kids take ownership of the room. It will send a message of shared control of the kulture.
Display the words of writers.
Use quotes and beautiful language that is found everywhere...charts, banners labels can surround the students . The message is clear. We value language and use it with intention in this classroom.
Use music to set moods. Research supports the use of music as an aid to thinking. You have your favorites, and open up the list to the students...give them control over what is played to help the thinking in the room during independent time...or even before a mini-lesson to jump start energy for thinking!
Provision occasionally with snacks. Treats that make the time feel more social. Every Friday: Café Day. Bring your favorite snack to enjoy as you writ and Routines...

In some coffee houses, you are asked to connect with the staff for a personal third place touch. You may be asked as you order to identify your favorite super hero...that's how you are called when your coffee is prepared, for example "Latte for Wonderwoman!" In your classroom, use a verbal anchor to get kids to attend to the pace of work. When it's time for a minilesson, say the VERY SAME thing each day...for example, teach them to respond to.."Let's rock" and the kids must say back..."Rock on!" That's a way to signal for attention...when Independent Writing follows... say, "Let's chill", for say "Chillin!" Using verbal cues can focus and generate attention.
Use of these strategies can help you to brew a Third Place feeling of a brand of comfort in your writing classroom.

About the Author
Trish Rubin is the president of The EdVentures group in NYC. She is a consultant and speaker. She is working on a book about the branding in school called "BRAND-ed".

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