In an interview (view here), Jerry Seinfeld, one of my all time favorites, talked about how he crafts a joke, and the importance of figuring out what is going to get his top two laughs. He talked about starting with his second best bit and finishing with his very best, obviously he wanted his audience to walk out of his performance energized and talking about how great the show was, all in an effort to get them back into seats in the future. When I think about how quickly our school year is coming to a close, I wonder how we are going to end, and how our audience, the students, will walk out of school. I know how strong we started this year, I was amazed at the work that was going on in your rooms in September in an effort to get the students on board with the learning. I knew early on that Waldheim School was going to be a great fit and that I was going to really enjoy working with everyone.
Fast forward to today, the day before returning to work after our Easter break. I have no doubt we are all tired and can all see the finish line. The days are getting longer and surely I’m not the only one whose thoughts are turning towards those favorite summer pastimes. So how do you finish strong? What do you do in May and June that leaves the students thinking, “I never want to leave this class!”? I have been thinking about this from the perspective of the office. What do I do in May and June that leaves the staff feeling, “I can’t believe how much I’ve grown as an adult learner this year! I can’t wait for September to start putting this to use!”?
Something that we have discussed this year is how to shift how we teach our math classes to a more student-centered approach. I know I say this all the time, but I think the best examples of how to teach in a student-centered environment occur in the industrial arts shop and in the home ec lab. This does not mean that what is happening in other rooms is not student-centered, far from it in fact, rather it is a reflection of the area of study and the beliefs that Glen, Marla, and Krisinda have towards student learning. I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I’ve seen kids sitting and taking notes in either lab, it is very rare (not a cooking pun). Rather, what I see are groups of kids working together to create things like sushi, soft pretzels, designer cakes, blankets, tote bags, guitars, skate boards, crokinole tables, running engines, jewelry, and many, many other cool things. When I used to teach senior math I recall feeling so sorry for the students as they politely worked their way through my boring lessons. I was teaching the way I was taught, and I thought it was the only way. I’ve included a learning link today that talks about 3 things you can do right away in your math class to help foster engagement, maybe this is the thing that gets kids saying, “I never want to leave this class!” I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.