Saturday, December 26, 2015

Students Remember the Fun Stuff

       I remember my Algebra 1 teacher taking off his shoes and socks in class one day.  He did it to demonstrate the need to do certain things in a proper order--otherwise, it just doesn't work.  The Algebra lesson probably had something to do with Order of Operations, but the real lesson was to complete each step in a process in the correct order.

       That lesson happened over 30 years ago and I still remember it because it was a little silly; a little goofy.  It wasn't a lecture; it wasn't a worksheet; it wasn't the normal classroom.  It was strange and odd and that it probably why I remember it.  As an educator (now), I think I also remember this event in class because it showed me that my teacher was willing to be a little silly to make a point.  He didn't have to be the Big Formal Authority in the classroom at every second of the class.  He was allowed to have some fun with his class--and still be a great teacher.

       I often tell teachers that it is not our job to entertain.  But it is part of our responsibility to motivate students to do their best.  Students don't think in educational terms such as "student engagement", "participatory learning", and "stations".  Most students just this fun.  It's not a show; it's not entertainment.  "Fun" to students is when the math class or the English class involves the students in the learning.  Its when students are not forced to stay seated for the whole period; to listen and not talk for the whole period; to take notes and learn on their own for the whole period.

      What students call "fun", teachers call "good teaching".  You don't have to be an entertainer to be a good, engaging teacher.  Chances are most teachers are already excited about the content that they teach.  The job is to convey that excitement to your students.  Involve them in the learning.  Allow for time out of their seats; time to talk and argue with other students; time to think and create and share their thoughts and ideas.

       Students don't just "like" the class better when they are involved, they actually "learn" better.  And isn't that the whole point of school in the first place?

Public Schools and Choice

       Is it true that public school kids and their public school parents don't have choices?  I'm sure that I will expose my igno...

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