Student teachers have FUN.  When planning your curriculum, imagine yourself as that student.  Would this be a lesson that you would be interesting and engaging?  If the answer is no, then inject some FUN and be a little silly.  It’s okay!  Be experimental, which means taking some risk that the lesson won’t work.  So be it.  We are practitioners, always seeking better ways to connect curriculum to our students’ lives. 

Elementary and middle-school teachers do a much better job at this than high school teachers.  Loosen up already.  Think outside the box.  Do something that will surprise the students, capturing their attention.  All in all, learning can be FUN and academic.  Not to mention, its reenergizing for the teacher and keeps our content fresh.

I write in my book, Road to Teaching: A Guide to Teacher Training, Student Teaching, and Finding a Job, about when I taught a lesson on world poverty in my middle school Social Studies class.  To kick it off the issue of world poverty, I removed most of the students’ desks and chairs.  The remaining desks represented the rich, chairs represented the middle class, and the floor represented the poor.  The number of desks and chairs were proportionate to the breakdown on income levels of the world.  When my students entered the classroom they were immediately stunned and hooked.  Some wondered out loud, “Why are there only three desks in here?”  They were desperate to find out what they were going to learn.  The lesson that followed was rich and engaging.  The students “felt” the problem.  At the end of the lesson, one of my challenging students said “we should do something about this.”  I said “okay, what were you thinking?”  The following week the entire class and I went to a local soup kitchen, resulting in an awakening experience for many of the students.

There’s another benefit to having FUN.  Injecting a little FUN may get your noticed by your principal.  I remember the principal coming in during my poverty unit to see what all the buzz was about.  He loved the lesson.  This experimental lesson led to a glowing recommendation letter, which helped me land some teacher interviews.  Also, it was a great talking point when asked in an interview, “Describe a lesson that you felt went well.”  (click here for more interview questions)

Try something new this week and get noticed!  Have FUN!

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