Some of you are going to disagree with me here, but I think teachers should think of themselves as a concierge, assisting students with things such as selecting assignments and topics; offering up reading and activities for enrichment purposes; and producing materials based on student interest and need.
I’ve said before that I’m blessed to have the ability to create my content, heck, for one of the classes I teach, I was part of a team that got it approved through the school board! However, with some planning and effort, I feel that we can all be at least part concierge in our classrooms.
Here are three ways in which you can assist your students with their interests and personal growth:
1.) Have extra enrichment materials in the wings for each unit.
For me, this looks like reading a book that kicks off a series, so there are others waiting for the students when they finish; offering up titles that are like things that we are reading; or suggesting films or television shows that are similar in theme to what we are working on. For you it might be more nonfiction from a specific time period; an extra science experiment in the same field of study; or similar math problems that are a bit more difficult.
2.) Ask your students what they want to do.
If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am a huge proponent of student choice in the classroom. Whenever I can, I allow my students to pick at least part of an assignment or assessment. For example, I let my students pick the film genres that we watch at the start of each semester…then I pick the films accordingly. It’s their class; I’m just the facilitator.
The same with my creative writing class; I like to start by asking the students what type of writings they are interested in doing, and I create my syllabus from there. In my clubs and in my classroom, I like to get student input as much as possible. And while we don’t all have the same amount of freedom, each of us can find ways to offer up at least a small bit of choice when creating lessons and materials for students, even if its making questions or problems based on their cultural interests.
3.) You have to go as all-in as you can.
Michael Jordan didn’t become Michael Jordan by sitting around and practicing when it was convenient for him; he busted his tail and put in the time to be become one of the greatest of all time. We all have lives outside of school: family, kids, friends, hobbies, etc. BUT, if you want to impact kids in ways that are game-changing, I’m sorry to tell you, you probably have to put in more time than you want. The teachers that get to work at the first bell and leave at the last bell, are most likely not the ones changing the culture of the school. No offense to those of you that need to be bell-to-bell-ers, but if I’m being honest, they probably stopped reading at tip one. If you are still reading this, you rock!
Look, teaching is an amazing profession. It keeps us young, and we get to take our experience and share it with cool young people, but for it to be truly impactful, we need to concierge that business and get those kids what they need to care about learning and it’s culture.
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