Why Instilling A Love Of School Should Be Your Highest Priority

Why Instilling A Love Of School Should Be Your Highest PriorityIf you were to have only one goal this coming school year, make it that your students enjoy being in your classroom.

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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18 Responses to Why Instilling A Love Of School Should Be Your Highest Priority

  1. Deborah Owen August 31, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    Yes! Kids enjoying school IS the missing ingredient. If they don’t like being there, then even the best “dog and pony show” simply will not engage them enough to bring them into the environment you are trying to create.

    I think there are two keys to making this happen. First, of course, is the relationship that a teacher develops with every student in the classroom. It is critical that the teachers makes sure that each child feels important and recognized for their talents and contributions. I know that all good teachers work hard at this, even though it can be exhausting.

    Second is honoring student interests and finding ways to connect what you are teaching to what they actually WANT to learn. It can be done! Show them that the math skills they are learning have real-world applications. Show them that the science topic can be found in their backyard, or is a big part of the national news discussion. Help them see the effects of historical events on their world today, and how the emotions of the characters in their novels are also exhibited in the people in their household and classrooms. Relevance is critical to engagement. Engagement leads to self-motivation.

    I write about these topics on my blog too. Thanks for bringing this up as we start our new school year! 🙂

    • Michael Linsin August 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

      Thanks for sharing, Deborah! I look forward to checking out your blog.

      Michael

  2. Sandra August 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more! This is my 23rd year of teaching, which would come as a great shock to anyone (teacher or child) who knew me as a student. I ended up dropping out just shy of the credits necessary for Grade 9. Fast forward a few years & I enrolled in university as a mature student. Two bachelor degrees, an academic publication, a master’s degree, and 22 years of teaching under my belt brings me to this blog response. I still don’t have a high school diploma, though.
    I was probably a smart enough girl, but I left for exactly the reasons you have written about. School felt dry and boring to me. I felt no connections to teachers. I saw no relevance to “real” life. (A pet peeve of mine is when people throw around those, “Well, when you get into the real world…” statements. For kids, this IS the real world right now. We must see it as that when we try to problem-solve with them.) My ADD, not understood at that time, must have contributed to my issues, too. But, had I really wanted to be at school, my ADD would only have created a few potholes in the road… not a complete sinkhole. Your advice, if heeded by schools at that time, would have made a huge difference for me.
    I didn’t become a teacher in spite of hating school, I became one ‘because’ I hated it. All my teaching years have been spent trying to live the advice you have given in this post.
    I have recently returned to the classroom from a Learning Coordinator role so understand and value curriculum. . . but as you’ve also iterated, relationships with students definitely come first!

    Sorry for such a lengthy response, but I can’t say enough how important this post of yours is. Thank you for it.

    • Michael Linsin August 31, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

      My pleasure, Sandra! Thanks for sharing your story.

      Michael

  3. Victoria Miles September 1, 2013 at 4:45 am #

    Dear Michael,
    Loved this week’s article. So timely for us in the Northeast. We welcome students this Tuesday. I am reminded of a student whose reputation was “unruly and difficult”, yet who did superb work in his grade 6 math class. I asked this skilled teacher, “why does Johnny do so well in your class?’ She replied, “I just tell him how much I enjoy having him in class, and how important his contributions are.”

    • Michael Linsin September 1, 2013 at 7:31 am #

      Excellent, Victoria! Good to hear from you!

      :)Michael

  4. Brenda September 1, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    This is my third year teaching. I teach 2nd grade. I have just finished the first week of school. Over the summer I read both your books and nearly every blog post in your archives. The things you said just resonated with me. I had the best first week. I spent the week modeling and practicing routines. I taught and re-taught my classroom management plan. I also smiled a lot and laughed a lot with my students. I know I heard at least ten times “you are the best teacher”. I have always wanted to be a teacher and returned to school in my 40’s. I was diagnosed with cancer last spring and missed a month of school because of it. I have enjoyed teaching the last 2 years but decided after my diagnosis that life was too short and if I couldn’t teach with less stress and more joy, then this would be my last year. The things I have learned have already made such a difference. I came home relaxed and happy last week. I already love my students. I was told by a colleague last week that I have such a good class this year. I do, but I am also different and they are different because of it. Thanks.

    I have one quick question. I love reading aloud to my students. I have a few entertaining picture books I like to read at the beginning of the year. I read with a lot of enthusiasm and even try funny voices for the different characters. I love the spontaneous reactions to the story and the joy of sharing a good book with them. Do you think I can, with 2nd graders, make this a time we don’t have to raise hands? A time when that spontaneity is okay? I tried it last week and they did struggle going back to the raising of hands after the story. Would you announce after the story that okay, now you have to raise your hands? I was hesitant to give a warning when we moved onto the next activity because I felt like I had confused them…yes, you can just talk and then no, you can’t. Suggestions?

    Thanks for all you do.

    Brenda

    • Michael Linsin September 1, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Brenda,

      Thank you for sharing your wonderful and inspiring story. I’m so happy to hear how well you’re doing. Awesome! As for your question, yes, absolutely you can allow your students to react spontaneously during read aloud–as long as you clearly define it for your students so that they don’t become confused. Treat read aloud like you would any other routine by teaching precisely what you want/expect and why it’s okay not to raise their hands during that particular moment of the day. Once it’s defined for them, it won’t become a problem by tainting or spreading into anything else you do.

      :)Michael

  5. Chuck September 1, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Hey Mike! I was wondering if you could help me get some ideas on how to incorporate more stories into my teaching. Last year, I told only one story and it was wild success! My lack of imagination and horrible recall of my past experiences however kept me from telling any more.

    I’m certain I have past experiences that would make great stories, but I have trouble eliciting the memories, and I don’t have enough imagination to make them really captivating (one of the reasons I don’t teach English or writing).

    Are there any resources that I can use for ideas for stories? If I read a few example ones, I might be able to jog my memory about similar happenings in my own past, or come up with something new.

    • Michael Linsin September 2, 2013 at 8:14 am #

      Hi Chuck,

      Try using stories to introduce lessons or units of study. This can be a very powerful way to get students invested and motivated to learn right off the bat. It will also give you confidence to try out some of your own. Remember, when it comes to stories, you can’t really mess it up. Your students will appreciate any attempt to make your classroom more interesting. You just have to go for it. Also, there is nothing wrong with your imagination. You have a million stories bouncing around in there just waiting for you to release them. Like anything else, you have to exercise your imagination. So tomorrow I hope you’ll jump in there and go for it.

      Michael

  6. Itzy September 1, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Another rock the house article by Michael Linsin!!

    Thanx, I love it!

    • Michael Linsin September 2, 2013 at 8:04 am #

      🙂

  7. Lauren September 5, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    My ultimate goal in teaching is: “to instill a love of learning in the hearts of my students.” If I instill a love for my classroom then once they leave, what have the truly gained? Just a thought 🙂

  8. Norell December 29, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    So I completely agree with the concept of “instilling a love of learning in the hearts of my students”. But honestly given the way things have been for me in the past two years or so I am struggling to find a way to connect with my students and teaching. I am at a turning point where I’m unsure if teaching is for me. Because I don’t know If I am the one to have the time, patience, and heart to do this anymore. I want alot for my students but I’m hurt by so much that has already happend. There are days when I think I can do it and days where I think “this is not what I imagined my teaching career to be”, so I don’t know if I want to do it.

    • Michael Linsin December 30, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Hi Norell,

      Indeed, your heart has to be in it. Teaching is not the kind of career you can do halfway because it usually doesn’t work out well. I hope you hang in there though, work through it, and experience the many joys teaching can offer.

      Michael

  9. Chris July 9, 2016 at 2:01 pm #

    100% YES to this article–spot on!

    Thank you for putting into words the thoughts and attitudes of a wholehearted teacher.

    The lessons from experience on website have been a great encouragement and support for me, particularly during the tough times when I wasn’t sure what was the right thing to do.

    • Michael Linsin July 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm #

      Great to hear, Chris! Glad you like the website.

      Michael

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. MS Weekly Staff Memo – March 2, 2014 | Sit Where They Sit - Middle School Edition - March 2, 2014

    […] Professional Development: I loved reading this post, and it was exactly what I needed to hear as we enter this very long month of March.  Please know that I see this enthusiasm as I go in and out of your classrooms.  As Linsin states, “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.” http://www.smartclassroommanagement.com/2013/08/31/instilling-a-love-of-school/ […]

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