I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. Not just any teacher, a cool teacher. The kind of teacher kids go home and tell their parents about. The kind of teacher who got kids to go to school. He talked about teachers. The unforgettable teacher.
I started thinking about the kind of teachers I had growing up. Don’t get me wrong, they were great teachers and I learned a lot from them, but they were “normal” in their teaching style and their classes were non-stimulating and often boring.
The material was memorized and the lectures, well … many reminded me of the teacher at Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, very dry and monotonous. Lessons were given, assignments were given, grades received. Completed! No creativity, no discussions, no debate. Cutting and drying.
Modeling from my previous teachers
In the first year of my apprenticeship, I tried to model myself from the teachers I had learned from, teachers / philosophers I had learned, and those I knew would be successful. I worked hard to familiarize myself with their teaching methods, but something was missing. The excitement of teaching and experiencing what I call the “light bulb moments” when my students grasp a particular concept was nowhere to be found.
I knew then that I did not fit into the shape of the “normal teacher”. I had to step out of the conventional “teacher’s box”, stay true to myself and let my creativity run free. I had to see learning from the perspective of my students. Put me in their shoes, so to speak. So i did.
Hug my true teacher
While other teachers insisted that students remain in their seats during class, students moved around the room – marching around desks, singing the “Gettysburg address,” clapping to the rhythm of the multiplication tables, and dancing through action verbs. Students spoke freely in the classroom while seated, which resulted in amazing class discussions but may have appeared unstructured or undisciplined to some.
Laughter could be heard as I added “voice overs” to a history lesson or pretended to be some mad scientist looking for the missing element. I hid “bits of knowledge” in a small treasure chest and created a treasure map with vocabulary and other activities that would lead to opening this chest. The classroom was full of light as the students were challenged and there were daily “light bulb moments”.
The students and I were high fiving when a test result hit a personal goal, parents got involved, my supervisors were happy, and I discovered that I was a cool teacher. Not because I did “cool” things, but because I was true to myself and followed my own heart. My classes were fun and memorable, and so were I.
All educators want their students to learn and be successful in school. I’ll explore ways you can turn the most boring topics into a fun, interactive lesson that your students will not only learn, but will remember.