Wednesday, January 2, 2008

It's ok if you're boring, just don't let your class be

Winter break (Yes, I'm using the Pagan designation instead of Christmas) ends tomorrow and it's back to school for me and my students. I'm frankly looking forward to seeing them and getting back into the swing of teaching. Sure this break has been nice but there's only so much free time one can have without going batty. One of the things I'm really looking forward to is the addition of a projector in my room. Now all we need are VR helmets and we'll be good to go. One of my Truman education professors once said that the goal of class isn't to get the students to have fun, but to get the students at the end of the class period to go, "Wait, where did the time go?" In a sense, class should be engaging over fun, though there is a considerable amount of overlap and exchange between the two.

Due to the number of preps I have and the fact that I'm a first year teacher, I rely heavily on personality over hardcore planning to make the classroom engaging. This isn't to say that I don't plan, but I let my personality pick up the slack where my lesson plan may have yawned it's way through the material.

Of course, let's say that even though you have a passion for education, you're about as exciting as watching a glacier move. There's still something that can be done to make the lesson plan more engaging.
  1. Provide opportunities for students to talk to one another about what is being learned.
  2. Show connections between the learning material and the real world or other subjects.
  3. Make the material applicable to something worthwhile. If you can't explain why what you're learning is in anyway needed or valuable, it's probably not worth teaching.
  4. Vary the assessment process. Some students respond better if they're allowed to formulate their response in an artistic manner. I can barely distinguish the ends of a paintbrush let alone draw, but I still try to include artistic homework alternatives for students who are more artistically inclined.
  5. Learn how to read your class. If they're bored or falling asleep throw a monkey wrench into your lesson plan and try something new. While you may be able to plow on through your planned material, it's not going to make much of a difference if nobody was awake for it. So take a field trip to the library or the gym or outside and on the way try and figure out how you're going to make the lesson work.
  6. Use games as a form of engagement. Ripoff all your favorite Parker Brothers and Cable TV shows for the ideas and format. If the material is being learned, who cares if it was framed in a mocked up version of Temptation Island. (I'm not serious of course. You're better off modeling your games off the Bachelor or Joe Millionaire.)
  7. Pull another teacher into your classroom to help team teach or share their area of expertise. If the teacher is uncooperative, find another teacher or threaten to give his students Red Bulls and donuts before they go into his class.
  8. Make use of the internet and youtube for examples or illustrations. Kids love the internet and most of them will know which proxy sites to visit to get around the school filters.
  9. Don't be afraid to show movies and videos, though it's better if these have to do with the lesson objectives.
  10. And finally, if all else fails, frontal lobotomies for your bad students and puppies for your good students. Works like a charm, every time.

1 comment:

Corie said...

I'm glad you've decided to create a teaching blog. Keep up the good work, and I hope you have a great semester!