Take a trip back in time with me and visualize your most memorable teacher. Maybe it was the one who inspired you to be an educator. Maybe it was someone who encouraged you in a subject area that you were challenged in. Maybe it was someone who recognized a gift that you had. For me it was a teacher in middle school (I’ve long forgotten her name) who encouraged me to write. She taught English, always a favorite subject of mine anyway, but she assigned writing topics and through her comments helped me recognized a gift that I had. At the time, my grandfather was writing a column for the local newspaper and I sent him some of the work I produced in that class, which he proudly published.
In this day of data and research driven lesson plans, it is sometimes easy to lose the heart of teaching. Even school counselors who deliver classroom lessons on character education and mindfulness often get lost in prescribed lessons and collecting data on behavior changes. What can we do to create lessons that capture and inspire students?
Here are four teaching suggestions:
Get personal: As a student don’t you remember how much you enjoyed those stories that teachers shared from their personal lives and experiences? Sometimes it made the material come to life. Sometimes it gave you insight into them as a real person with a family and outside interests. Sometimes it helped you understand a mission or passion they had. Keep the shared experiences relevant to the topic at hand but put some of yourself into the mix.
Get relevant: Students are engaged when they see how the material relates to their lives. I remember a teacher I was observing in a math class who was teaching problem-solving through word problems that she made up which were practical as well a bit humorous. I was so entertained that I had a hard a hard time remembering to observe the student I was there for.
Get inspirational: Use your material to inspire students to change the world and to be the best they can be. Every lesson no matter the topic has a personal application and a history. Share your personal desire for a peaceful world, saving endangered species or finding a cure for cancer. Help students to visualize a future that is better because of their focus and effort.
Get innovative: While it is easy to fall back year after year on the same tired lessons, challenge yourself to add something new and innovative each year. Your dedication to being a lifelong learner yourself will transfer the same enthusiasm to your students.
Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten
Wyatt has never liked change, at least not at first. Once he tries something new, he usually finds he really likes it. Now that he is about to begin kindergarten, Wyatt is really worried. Will he make friends? Will he get lost in the new school? Will he miss his mom? Join Wyatt in his latest “wonder-full” adventure!
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Goes to Kindergarten