In addition to using fanschool.org to improve global awareness, classroom motivation, and daily news reading habits, here are few more ways to become a fan of school this year, especially during those upcoming days and weeks that every teacher (and human) has when the new-school-year shine wears off…
1) Understand that your Classes are as much about Connection as they are about Content.
I often forgot that kids in my class were kids, aged 14–18, and had a lot of other stuff going on around them, and in their brains.
They had lots of emotions on any given day. And so did I.
I learned pretty quickly, however, that there isn’t much learning without engagement. So, develop some simple, daily habits to help you engage and connect with students, so you can get back to focusing on content:
- Smile more. And laugh!
Did you know your body doesn’t know the difference between a fake smile and a real one? Or that laughing shoots endorphins into your brain, which results in a natural high? Feel free to “get high” with your students daily (without synthetic drugs, of course) just by smiling and laughing a little more.
- Give more high-fives! At the classroom door. In the hallway. Make eye contact. Reward good work with it! It’s really hard to stay in the nasty mood you’re in when someone gives you an authentic high-five.
A recent study showed that greeting students at the door sets a positive tone, increasing engagement and reducing disruptive behavior, potentially adding “an additional hour of engagement over the course of a five-hour instructional day”.
All-Star Teacher Tip: Learn students and you’ll learn names. I realized that if I actually got to know students at the beginning of the year, I’d actually remember their names faster. Get curious about who they are as people (without forgetting about boundaries). Then, use their names all the time, with the new awareness that our names are the most beautiful-sounding words in any human language.
2) Understand that What We Become at School is just as Important as What We Achieve.
Read this book (maybe while you’re proctoring a standardized test):
Top 20 Teens: Discovering the Best-Kept Thinking, Learning & Communicating Secrets of Successful…
Amazon.com: Top 20 Teens: Discovering the Best-Kept Thinking, Learning & Communicating Secrets of Successful Teenagers…
Then, read these other books too.
And SEE what happens — If you’re stuck in yuck, it might just be time to adjust your Frame:
All-Star Teacher Tip: Take care of yourself, physically and emotionally, so you can take better care of the less-experienced humans in your classes — Be aware this will be especially difficult at 4pm when you’re still at school with those same little humans after you got up at 4am to lesson-plan for them. Check out this program we also created at our school as a result of the above learning. This “Lessons in Personhood” post is also a good rundown of teacher-leadership reminders.
3) Practice this Improvement cycle Daily or Weekly to Avoid the Burnout cycle
All-Star Teacher Tip: If you get stuck at #6 over the next few months, don’t forget to Ask your students! One of two things will probably happen: 1) they’ll validate your feelings and offer some ways to help improve 2) they’ll let you know that they’re not seeing things the way you do and that you should keep up the good work. Both of these things might boost your enthusiasm!
4) If all else fails, Fake It until you Become It!
All-Star Teacher Tip: Understand that no textbook or education technology platform will save you — Not even fanschool.org. But it can amplify teaching and learning! School is a human-run thing that happens in a human-built building. It is a pillar of democracy. It is also a better place to go while parents are working. Teachers are not the only factor in a student’s school experience, but over time students will see what you see — Make sure your vision’s clear.
Some days you’ll just get pooped on.
It’s about how you respond the next morning that counts.
School becomes Education when we’re all aware of what it is and what it can become.