Tuesday, December 18, 2018

T is for Time

During this holiday season, I thought it would be fun to use the word Christmas and apply it to education.

Today’s letter is T and T stands for Time.

Time includes punctuality, wait time, patience.

Being on time is important and it means you respect the other person. By showing up early or on time, you are letting the other person know that you value them. When you are late, you are being disrespectful and saying that your time is more valuable than theirs. I want my students to know how important they are to me so I am always early to class. This is also a way that I can be a role model for them.

Time also means giving people time to answer your questions. Too many times in the classroom, teachers ask a question and do not give the student time to answer. This rush for an answer can confuse and even intimidate the student. Sometimes it may be important to say that you will give them time to think of the answer and come back to them. Don’t be in a hurry to answer it for them or ask someone else to help them. Show them that you have faith that they will come up with an answer. I also like to toss out the question to the whole class but not let anyone answer it for a few minutes. Then I will ask students to give me a “thumbs up” if they know the answer and I can call on one of them. The ones with their thumbs down can learn the answer for next time.

Patience is also involved in teaching. Sometimes the students won’t catch on to the skill the first time and will need more practice. Don’t rush them through a lesson if they haven’t mastered the skill. It is more important to have mastery than to push through some arbitrary timetable. What I may think is easy, may not be easy for my students. If the student can’t seem to master the skill, it might be worthwhile to see if a peer can help them learn it. Sometimes a peer is more helpful than the teacher.

How do you show your students that time is important? Please share.

Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash

Monday, December 17, 2018

S is for Simple

During this holiday season, I thought it would be fun to use the word Christmas and apply it to education.

Today’s letter is S and S stands for Simple.  

Sometimes I make a lesson so complicated and fancy that it doesn’t work. I work myself into a frenzy trying to make it fabulous and then it bombs. I have too many working parts and too many things included that if I forget something, it won’t work. Yet, I’m trying really hard to make a perfect lesson.

Then I find that I can do a simple lesson with not many supplies needed and the students love it!

I have learned that my students like to use their imagination and make it fancy on their own terms.

If I give simple directions and allow them to be creative, the students stay engaged and enjoy the lesson more.

I need to remember to keep it simple and allow the students to grow at their own pace.

Simple is sometimes stronger. These are the lessons that they will remember. These are the skills that will help them solve problems.

What do you do to keep things simple in your classroom? Please share.

Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash

Friday, December 14, 2018

I is for Interesting

During this holiday season, I thought it would be fun to use the word Christmas and apply it to education.

Today’s letter is I and I stands for interesting.  

When it is time to introduce a new lesson, this time is important to set up my future lessons for success or failure.

If I start out in a boring fashion and explain the nuts and bolts of the future unit, it will fall flat on its face. My students will hate the whole unit and I’m not sure they will really learn and retain any of the new information.

If I can make the introduction interesting and have them looking forward to what is in store for them, they will be excited about learning. They will be curious to learn more. Even though they may face obstacles, they will enjoy learning this new information. If they find it interesting, they will remember this information for a longer time.

I may dress up like a key character in the unit. Students always enjoy seeing me come in as someone else. I like to teach the whole lesson as if I’m that character. This takes some time and research on my part but it is a lot of fun.

I may show a clip from a movie and tell them that this will be an important part of our lesson. Student loves video clips. I might even show the whole movie at the end of the unity.

I may set up a treasure hunt where each part of the unit is one part of the treasure map. As they complete each lesson successfully, they get a piece of the puzzle and can move on to the next part. Once they have all the parts, they can put it all together to get a complete map and find the treasure. The treasure may be a specific reward for that particular student.

There are lots of ways to make lessons interesting. What do you do? Please share.

Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash

Thursday, December 13, 2018

R is for Relevant

During this holiday season, I thought it would be fun to use the word Christmas and apply it to education.

Today’s letter is R and R stands for relevant.

I have had to attend professional development meetings where nothing shared was relevant to my teaching situation. I felt it was a waste of my time and resented having to sit there through these things. Sometimes I brought work to do so that I felt I was using my time more wisely but it can also look rude to the speaker. Sometimes I even brought some crochet or knitting in order to help me pay attention.

The worst thing I can do when teaching a lesson to my students is to not explain how this new learning will be relevant to them. I need to show a connection to their current situation. Maybe what I’m teaching is a skill that will help them be successful in the future. Maybe this new skill is a foundation for something we are going to learn next. Maybe this skill is something that will make their life easier right now. If I can’t find some connection and show how it is relevant, then I need to scrap this lesson. I will be wasting their time and my time.

I would not give lessons to my students on how to drive a horse and buggy if they will never need this information. I would not teach a student how to write in calligraphy style if they will never use this skill. It is different if they show an interest and want to learn these things because this interest makes the learning relevant. But if they have no interest and there is no need, then I don’t need to teach it.

Maybe a lesson at the beginning of the year is not relevant at that time but later in the year, it might be. That will be an appropriate time for me to teach this lesson.

Teaching students that their tastes and interests may change over time and that this is okay is a valuable lesson. I’ve learned many new things over the past few years that I never thought I’d have an interest in learning. Years ago, it was not relevant to me but when I was interested in learning this specific thing, then it became relevant.

How do you decide what is relevant to your students? Please share.

Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

H is for Happy

During this holiday season, I thought it would be fun to use the word Christmas and apply it to education.

Today’s letter is H and H stands for happy.

If you decide to teach, you need to be happy. You won’t be happy all of the time, but you need to make sure you are doing this for all the right reasons.

If you are doing it for a lot of money, you will never be happy.

If you are doing it because you think you are smarter than anyone else, you will never be happy.

If you believe that you can make a difference in someone’s life, you will end up feeling happy.

Students know when you are not happy doing what you are doing. I’m not saying that you need to smile and be happy every day but if you are happy, you will feel content and satisfied with your choice of profession.

Those who are not happy doing what they are doing become bitter, angry, and end up being very incompetent. They become incompetent because they don’t care. They don’t take pride in what they are doing. They don’t care if what they are doing is right or not. This is not the teacher I would want my children to have to see every day.

I know I will have good days and I will have bad days but hopefully, the good days outweigh the bad. Those good days make all the bad days worthwhile. I will learn from my bad days and they become learning opportunities instead of failures.

My students will show appreciation and that will warm my heart. These simple words of appreciation can quickly make me feel happy.

The smile on my students faces when they finally understand something that they struggled with is enough to make me feel happy.

These happy times help me get through the rough patches.

What makes you happy in your classroom? Please share.

Photo by Evelyn on Unsplash