Because no strategy, technique, or method in the world works as well to motivate students to behave, attend during lessons, and focus on their academic work.
Instilling a love for school affects and changes students like nothing else can or ever will, improving the effectiveness of virtually everything you do.
It can turn around the most difficult student, set fire under the most uninspired, and change a negative outlook from drab and demoralized to bright and expectant.
For most teachers, this is the missing ingredient.
Curriculum is important, to be sure, but it belongs in the second fiddle section of your orchestra, while cultivating a love and appreciation of school and being part of your classroom takes spotlight on center stage.
It’s the attitude and enthusiasm and want-to in your students, after all, that opens them to learning and makes your curriculum go. It’s the heady joy of being in a classroom they can’t wait to get to that leads to inspiration, exploration, and curiosity.
If your students aren’t happy in your classroom, if they don’t look forward to seeing you and engaging with their classmates, if your lessons are yawn-inducing and your personality is flat, then everything bogs down. Everything stumbles and grinds and grows increasingly more difficult as the school year wears on.
The unavoidable truth is that when boredom and dissatisfaction take root in your classroom, your students will create their own enjoyment. They’ll look for their own stimulation outside of the parameters of your classroom. They’ll choose to make their own fun instead of listening and embracing your instruction.
Like poison ivy amid the world’s changing climates, disrespect and misbehavior thrive in such an environment.
But the good news is that creating a classroom your students look forward to isn’t difficult, nor does it need to be a great sacrifice. It doesn’t take extra planning. You don’t have to wow them with your acting and oratory skills. And every lesson doesn’t have to be an exhilarating roller coaster ride.
It is simply an attitude, a spirit, and a cultivation of enjoyment. It’s finding humor in the everyday and laughter for laughter’s sake. It’s the relationships, the shared moments of discovery, and the sheer pleasure of teaching and learning something interesting.
It’s in your smile. It’s in your tone of voice. It’s in your actions and movements, your body language, and your commitment to creating a culture of appreciation—starting with you and pinballing around the room and back again, to and from every student in your class.
It is your enthusiasm for teaching. Not the job of teaching, mind you, and not the idea of teaching, but the real heart of the matter, the imparting of knowledge, the simple rewards of showing your students something they haven’t experienced before.
So many teachers lose track of this. They lose track of where the true joy of teaching resides and of why they became a teacher in the first place. They lose track of themselves in the acres of stuff that conspire to sap the pure satisfaction of inspiring young minds.
The sad result is that the life and vitality of the classroom becomes lost in a forest of peripherals. It becomes lost in all the schedules and meetings and materials and trainings and the other less importants.
But only if you let it.
Be well prepared before beginning each day of school, absolutely. But keep your focus on your students. Keep your focus on the act of teaching, on the celebration of teaching, on creating a learning experience your students love being part of.
Because when you cultivate a love of school first, everything else—from classroom management to motivation to inspired, unforgettable learning . . .
Clicks into place.
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