Did you know that today, February 1, is Harry Styles’ birthday?
I know what you’re asking.
“Who’s Harry Styles?”
Harry Styles one of the members of the singing group, One Direction.
A great strategy for getting students engaged in a lesson is to inject some element of what is cool to your kids in a lesson. This works especially well if you’re teaching a topic that might not be too interesting to your students.
“Today we’re going to learn about the Constitution.”
(Groans from some students)
“I was on the phone with Harry Styles yesterday, (This is where the students stop what they’re doing and focus on you). Harry is a singer in some band, and we were discussing the United States Constitution. Really! He was giving me a Heart Attack, because he said the Constitution was boring. I told him that he needed to focus more on school, but do you know what he told me?”
By now, the students know you’re joking, but you’ve got their attention, and in their eyes, you’re a little more cool, or hip or rad or whatever they’re using now to describe someone they like.
“He told me that we need to live while we’re young.”
For those of you who may not be big fans of One Direction, Heart Attack and Live While We’re Young are two of the band’s more popular songs. Raise your hand if you knew this already.
One of my best teaching revelations was that anytime you can inject some coolness into your lesson, you’re going to get more students engaged.
Are you cool?
A better question is… Do your kids think you’re cool?
What do your students think is cool?
What’s the in thing right now?
There will be times when you’ll have to teach a topic that on the surface, and to most students, is dry and boring.
These are the times when keeping students interested in the topic is the most difficult.
Many teachers just plod through the lesson, hoping that the students learn something.
Amazing teachers are cool, and they make these lessons cool, because they’ve taken the time to learn about what is cool right now, whether it’s a new band or a new song or a popular television show. Amazing teachers find a way to incorporate what’s cool into the lesson.
As I get older, staying cool becomes more of a challenge.
How many remember Fonzie?
Fonzi was cool – back in my day.
Kids today don’t have a clue who Fonzie is, so I have to work a little more at staying cool.
Luckily, I have a 13-year old in my house, and I can pick his brain.
I just learned what a “Selfie” was.
Being cool takes time and a decision to do some research into what is cool to your kids, but the benefits of this investment of time pays off, especially if you have a challenging student.
Consider that challenging student who just refuses to follow instructions.
You know who he/she is. Go ahead and say his/her name.
What is cool to him/her?
Do you know?
Let say that the student is a fanatic for remote control cars. (I’m thinking of a student right now.)
I would invest some time in learning about RC cars and look for ways to inject some of the RC lingo into my lecture or even better, create a lesson where a remote control car could be used as a prop.
This is where the creative juices start flowing.
Imagine how cool I would be to that kid. Imagine how much more he/she would be engaged in the lesson.
What is cool to your kids?
It’s worth it to find out.
Have them fill out a questionnaire about what is interesting to them. This is what marketers do all the time. They ask people about their shopping habits, and they use this information to better sell a product. Teaching is selling a product. We have to find out what our “consumers” are interested in and use that information to market our product.
Do we know what our students are interested in? Do we know what’s cool to them?
Before I end, I would like to wish a very happy birthday to Harry Styles. If you’re reading this, Harry, please feel free to stop by my school if you’re in the area. My students would love to meet you and hear your thoughts about education.
If you can’t stop by, I understand. You’re busy.
Until next time,
Here’s to your Success In The Classroom!
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