One of my favorite shows is Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on the Food Channel. The host, Guy Fieri, travels around the country to highlight small, but super popular restaurants that serve awesome food.
As I was watching the show, I was impressed on how successful these small, hole-in-the-wall eateries are. People are lining up to spend money in these places, and Guy uses his show to share how they do it.
Always looking for something to share with my visitors on SITC, I saw a connection with this Food Channel show and teaching. Wouldn’t it be great if students were lining up to come to our classrooms, and not just because they had to?
It is possible.
All you have to do is use some of the strategies that these successful diners, drive-ins, and dives use to attract and keep their customers.
I know what you’re asking: “Are you crazy Sam?”
A little, but if you want to have your students excited about your class, you need to try some of the strategies that make these restaurants so successful.
So I call these strategies:
Three Ways that Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives can Help You Be a Better Teacher
1. Use Fresh Ingredients
You never see one of the cooks on the show opening up a frozen bag of French fries or using store-bought pasta. Everything is fresh and of the best quality. This is what sets these successful restaurants apart from the ordinary restaurants.
It’s the same with teachers. There are some teachers who will settle for the lessons that come with the textbook. They’ll use the tests at the end of the chapters, and although I’m not saying that they shouldn’t do this, I don’t think using the lessons and assessments in the textbook will make you extraordinary. It’s just like those froze French fries, it’s easier, but they don’t taste as good as the freshly made fries. Those lessons and tests were not created for your particular students. They were made for the typical student, and I don’t believe there is such a thing as a typical student. I would encourage new teachers to get in the habit of creating their own lessons and assessments based on the needs of their particular students. It’s going to take more time and effort, but your students will learn more and will find better success on the assessments.
2. Love What You Do and Show It
Do you notice that the cooks and owners of these small restaurants are happy all the time? They enjoy their job. They love making food and seeing their customers happy. They love what they do, and it shows.
What about teachers? We all know which teachers are the happy ones and which ones are the unhappy ones. You know which teachers are upbeat and positive and which ones are solemn and complain a lot. Which teachers do you think students enjoy going to learn from? You have to love what you do. You have to smile and want your students to have a positive experience in your classroom. They are your customers, and they’ll feed off your enthusiasm or lack of it. I like hanging around new teachers. They have that save-the-world enthusiasm that just bubbles over, and it’s contagious. Many veteran teachers also have this love of teaching, but unfortunately, there are those teachers who appear angry all the time, and it translates into unhappy classrooms. Don’t be one of those teachers. Customers will come back to a restaurant if it’s a happy place, where the servers are friendly and the food is made with love. It’s the same with teachers. Students will enjoy coming to a class where the environment is a positive one, and the teacher is happy. If you have to, fake it.
3. Create an Extra Special Dish
As Guy travels the country, you will often find him dining at a restaurant that is famous for a particular dish. The diner is known as “the Home of the Colossal Pizza” or “the Home of the Amazing Hot Dog.”
What is your signature dish? I was visiting a school in the district when I noticed a former student walk in the front door. He was with another man who turned out to be one of the district supervisors in the I.T. department. My former student had just been hired at the district, and after we greeted each other, he and his new boss walked away. As they departed, I heard my former student say, “He used to rap in class.” I smiled, because even after 10 years, my former student still remembered my signature dish – rapping. I was known as the rapping teacher. I look back now, and I’m a little embarrassed about it, but this is one of the reasons why students enjoyed my class. I would take my musical “talents” and use them to make the lesson memorable.
How do you make your class memorable? What is your special talent that you bring to the classroom? What do the students remember about your class? What is your signature dish? Create a classroom where students will find a learning experience that is unique from any other classroom. Incorporate your talents, passions, hobbies, etc. into your lessons. If you like photography, teach a lesson using your photos or if you like to sing, have the students write a song about the lesson for you to perform. Give your classroom a signature dish. Your students will remember what they learn when you make it special.
Your class may be one of several at your school, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be just another class at your school. You can be the teacher that students talk about with pride. Your class can be that room the principal wants to take visitors to. You can have the best performing students in the school, because they enjoy their experience in your classroom.
It’s going to take time, effort, and a commitment to excellence, but aren’t your customers worth it?
Make their experience in your classroom a memorable one.
Until next time,
Here’s to your Success in the Classroom.