First Delight, Then Instruct

 

Think for a minute about the best learning experience you ever had or the most memorable lesson you taught.
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My guess is that there was some joy in that experience. Were you delighted at any time during that process? Was the joy/delight at the beginning, middle, or end?

For me, I think the best learning I encountered was when I was hooked by something that interested me, or there was something that made me smile right from the get-go.

I also know that sometimes, that joy is going to happen at the end of a lesson or unit. As the learning wrapped up there was finally the “A-ha” moment. Until we got to the end, we were just meddling in the middle to what felt like eternity in my ADD brain.

In one of James Clear’s newsletters, he quoted this guy: Gustav Friedrich Waagen. which can be found in HERE in which he talks about the purpose of an art museum.

How can we hook students in at the beginning? How do we make them smile so that joy seeps into the instruction section? How do we delight students in their educational journey?

Maybe it’s getting out of our comfort zones?

I remember in my early years of teaching when I read “Teach Like a Pirate” and it giving me the “permission” to let my guard down and act silly in class. I can’t even remember the learning objective for the lesson that would happen at the end of the day. I asked the football coach if I could borrow a football helmet and a tackling dummy. I wore the helmet all day long. Obviously, lots of questions came from students. “You’ll have to wait until the end of the day to find out.” became my answer to all of them.

In that last class, I tackled the dummy, which was some metaphor for something I was teaching about. The students thought it was funny. Or perhaps, they were laughing at me. :) Either way, they were delighted and hooked. Which then lead right into the lesson. They paid more attention that day than normal and they asked about tomorrow’s plans.

I can remember being fearful of doing something that was not normal, not what most teachers would do, and definitely not by the book. I was most fearful of looking stupid or silly in front of my teaching colleagues. I wondered what they would say about me? Would my “street cred” go down? I decided that their opinion didn’t matter, it was more about the kids, and I didn’t want to be boring, so I went for it.

It was just what the students needed.

May your day be great.

Stay Curious.

Give more than you take.

Matt

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