Thursday, June 10, 2010


smores As we have been doing a lot of camping lately with campfires, I have been reminded about times when I was growing up and toasting marshmallows with my family. We always made s’mores and they were so yummy. I’m sure most of you know what a s’more is but in case you don’t, here is the description. You toast your marshmallow over a campfire and then make a sandwich with it, chocolate squares and graham crackers. After you eat it, you want s’more!

Now, I’ve eaten toasted marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers. But when they are eaten separately, they have a totally different taste than when they are eaten together. It takes all three of these things together to really make your taste buds go into overdrive.

Then I began to think about how this relates to the classroom. What ingredients are needed for our students to want “s’more”? I think having all the right ingredients make a difference but what are they? I think an effective teacher, a willing student, and the right environment are necessary to get the right combination.

But what makes me an effective teacher? I need to be willing to learn throughout my career. This means learning new techniques and tools as well as learning the true and tried ways that have worked in the past. I need to use my time out of the classroom in a way that rejuvenates me and recharges my batteries. This might mean that on the weekends I do things that may seem selfish to others but necessary for my own piece of mind. It might mean that during the summers, I take classes that I want to take but never had the time. I might take classes that can help me in the classroom but they might also be classes that have nothing to do with the classroom. But when I’m in the classroom, I’m always looking at what is in the best interest of the student and not me. I feel that once I stop doing this, I am not an effective teacher.

How do I make a student willing to learn? I need to give the student opportunities to succeed. I know that if I’m always failing at something and don’t feel there is any hope, I will give up. I need to be the advocate, and sometimes cheerleader, for the student. When the student struggles and seems frustrated, I need to look for ways to help the student overcome the obstacles. I want my student to feel like he/she is never alone and knows that I’m going to be there to help when needed. I need to help the student forget about the failures of the past and be willing to start with a fresh new start. By being the proper role model, I can show the student how wonderful it is to learn and that this is a lifelong process that I am still involved in.

How can I control the environment? I might not be able to change the school policies but I can make my classroom inviting. There is McCall’s Hospice House nearby which cares for people in their end stage of life. I haven’t been there yet but plan to go there soon to visit a friend. My pastor mentioned that it is an extremely positive place with lots of windows, cheery staff, bright colors and positive attitudes all around. What a delightful place this sounds like. I want my classroom to be seen in the same way and not as a dark and rigid place of learning. I want to be “user friendly” that makes people glad to be there.

What do you think are the main ingredients for s’mores in education? Please share your thoughts.

Posted on the Successful Teaching Blog by loonyhiker (successfulteaching at gmail dot com).

Original image: 'S'Mores!' by: Kate Sumbler


Aparna said...

First, I wanted to share that I had my first S'more about a year ago.

I really admire your passion for teaching and thinking about the essential ingredients for education. My suggestions are:

Good teachers
Good resources for teachers
Parental engagement--not involvement, engagement.

Kids will succeed like nothing we have seen before.

newlywedbeth said...

Love S'mores! Love teaching more! I have enjoyed this blog from day one. As to my three ingredients - I suggest three for each of your three. The effective teacher needs enthusiasm, knowledge of the material to cover, and LOVE (genuine concern) for the students (a hard lesson for me to learn my first years teaching!) The willing student needs self-discipline, a good work ethic, and supportive (but not spoiling) parents. The right environment needs to be a secure place (where a student will not be teased for his funny questions or mocked by ANYONE), freedom to use individual learning styles (like room to do jumping jacks for correct answers and to act out parts of history), and a feeling of home (with lamps, soft curtains, and comfy reading chairs.

loonyhiker said...

@Aparna Glad you got to try a s'more! Like the part about parent engagement like you mentioned!

loonyhiker said...

@newlywedbeth Thanks for expanding on my three. Those were great!