School and learning is kinda like eating vegetables. There is a small percentage of the population that naturally LOVES it. Most of us do it because we know it’s good for us. For students to be engaged in class, they do not need to have the kind of fun that a Panama City spring break offers to college coeds. Imagine the lawsuits! So, for students to think our classes are fun, we need to redefine what fun means, and we need to take a close look at what we can manipulate to make kids think our lessons are fun.
Names have huge power over reactions. I’ll give you two examples of agendas that might be posted in a classroom:
Guess whose class students look forward to attending. Every minute of the actual lesson might be exactly the same, but by using the second agenda, I can promise that both you, and your students will have more fun with the same activities.
Making your class the one students look forward to doesn’t have to mean changing how you teach. One day, simply post a sign that reads “Top Secret” over the board that hangs outside your classroom that usually contains the materials students need to bring. (This works best when students don’t need any materials for today’s lesson, otherwise they might be unprepared.) As soon as students walk past a “Top Secret” sign, they’ll be engrossed in conversation about what your class will hold today! Then, ensure that each period of students says nothing about what they learned, or make up a fun story to tell all the other kids in the school.
Have a silent lesson day. Kids are always talked to, talked about, and talked at. A silent lesson will really pique their attention. Try teaching a lesson by sitting at your computer and typing messages into a word document. Students could communicate by passing notes instead of talking. Added bonus, you don’t end up with a splitting headache. Heck, one day, buy four $10 costumes from the dollar store after Halloween. If, at the end of each class period you send one student out into the school dressed in costume, kids will start talking, and they’ll start wondering about what your class is about today.
So much of the writing published about education is published by people who don't teach. I figured it was time for a teacher to write about teaching. I've been proud to teach 8th-grade ELA in Dunkirk City Schools since 2007, and to serve at Fredonia State University as an adjunct professor, teaching educational technology since 2017.