Here at SCM we believe in bringing a spirit of fun to your classroom every day of the week.
We believe in smiles and laughter, silly dances and funny accents.
We believe in amusing stories, engaging activities, and enjoying students with no strings attached.
Fun provides an effortless way to build rapport and capture interest.
It awakens the mind and soothes the soul. It motivates and inspires.
It’s a surefire conduit through which your students will look forward to your class.
It also gives your classroom management plan the dissuasive power to protect your classroom from disruption and disrespect.
But fun is merely a tool.
Although real and wonderful, it’s a tool that opens the door to learning. It isn’t learning itself—at least, it shouldn’t be most of the time.
You see, the danger in trying to make every lesson an inflatable bounce house is that you send the message that if it isn’t fun, then it doesn’t have value and therefore isn’t worth doing.
It’s a message our students are already getting 24/7 from the world around them.
Academic rigor entails deep thought, study, and reflection. With excessive television, video games, text messaging, social media, and the like conspiring to shorten attention spans and weaken observational power, we must provide the counterpoint.
Fun and humor and dynamic teaching provide the way in. But once we’re in, it’s time for serious learning.
Your job is to provide world-class instruction, to emote, mimic, and dramatize, to bring the curriculum to life for your students . . . and then turn responsibility over to them.
Do your part and do it well. Then step aside and let your students do theirs. Let them ruminate, converse, and connect. Let them struggle and overcome.
Let them fail and succeed. Let them wrestle with the challenges you place before them with only reluctant additional support.
Increase independent and group learning time to build stamina and deepen learning. Allow them to develop grit, tenacity, and perseverance.
Prepare them not just to get through the day without skinning their knee or bruising their ego, but for life ever after.
When we try to compete with the fast-paced world, when we continue to abbreviate lessons and shrink independent work time, our students lose.
They can’t sit still and listen. They can’t concentrate for longer than a two-minute YouTube video. They can’t think critically or stay the course through difficult conundrums.
It also hinders them from enjoying many of the greatest pleasures in life—distraction-free conversation, imaginative play, an afternoon with a book.
Although our students come to us with varying levels of attentiveness, they can all improve. The idea that they have a fixed ability of which we can do little about is hogwash.
This does, however, take pushing the envelope. It takes exercising and taxing mental muscle. It takes preparing them to be interesting, to look people in the eye, to have meaningful discussion.
It takes thinking, writing, studying, and conversing for prolonged periods of time. It takes hard work.
This puts the onus on you, of course, to present compelling lessons, to be interesting yourself, to bring enough fun and passion to your classroom to open the door, to get them to sit up, take notice, and lean in.
But the rewards are no less than a productive, well-behaved class who can’t wait to get to school every day.
Who leave your classroom nine months later changed, transformed, altogether different than when they first arrived.
PS – I’m hard at work on a new book that includes how to engage students in a way that is natural and effortless. The book will be released in spring 2016.
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