This morning I logged into twitter and what do I see… Craig Martin (@CraigCMartin12) having a dance party in his office and over-the-top fired up for a day of school.
So of course, I joined in because enthusiasm is contagious. I promptly responded with my own video sharing my excitement for the day and WHY.
This morning reminded me of the day I met “The Lego Kid.” This was a student in preschool who I met visiting his classroom. When I walked into the classroom he was working on a Lego creation. He was fully engaged, being creative, and using his imagination to make this creation. When he was finished and put the last brick on the creation, he jumped up like he had just caught the winning touchdown pass and could not wait to share his accomplishment with somebody. It was pure joy and excitement for learning.
Watching Craig’s video this morning and remembering the Lego Kid inspired me to write today’s blog focused on “How are we making sure every day our students have enthusiasm for learning” As a leader, I think a lot about how to support staff to allow all students to be excited every day when they walk in the door.
When I think about “excitement”, I think about words we can use to express our “excitement”. For example:
Do students feel these words entering your class? Excitement is a feeling you get when you know something is about to happen. You look forward to that something. Excitement creates action! And our action as educators is to make our learning environment exciting and engaging.
In my experience, students who are not motivated will not learn to their full potential. Retention and participation diminish and students who are not engaged may even become disruptive. Student all have a story and may be unmotivated for a variety of reasons such as:
- They have no interest in the subject
- Find the instruction un-engaging
- Have difficulty learning and is in need of special attention
Think about current video game designers. They strategically make complicated games easy to engage in. This process is called onboarding. Meaning to increase more users to the site or game. Game designers recognize that the most important time in any activity is the very beginning to promote engagement. We want to onboard learners. If you can grab student’s excitement from day 1 and from the start of each lesson their engagement and retention will increase. Find out what your students are passionate about and then use those interests as intrinsic motivators to increase engagement and daily excitement.
As Manny Scott says “It starts with building relationships.” Getting to know your students is about more than just learning their names. When students know that their teacher has an interest in them and cares about them and their success they feel appreciated and it will create a safe learning environment. Students learn FOR people not just FROM people. When students know you care it motivates them to work harder, as they want to get praise and good feedback from someone they feel knows and respects them as students. Whether a student is fixated on one thing or has a few areas of intense interest, there are many strategies you can use to work students interests into your instruction to create excitement and have a class full of Lego Kids.
Mix up instruction: Mix in a group project, or a blended learning lesson, and even an outdoor lesson one day in order to let kids know that there are many ways to learn and grow. A classroom is a great place for learning, but sitting at a desk too long can make school start to seem stale. Give your students a chance to get out of the classroom by taking field trips, bring in speakers, and even just head to the public library for some research. The brain loves novelty and a new setting can be just what some students need to stay motivated to learn.
Use real time examples: Talk about how students can apply lesson content in real life to help students feel connected to what they’re being taught. Using relevant learning will give students perspective on the lesson content and bring in their own experiences.
Enthusiasm is contagious: A student who views school as a place where they can have fun will be more motivated to take an active part in the learning. Adding fun learning activities into your school day can help students who struggle to stay engaged excited to go to school every day.
Increase student involvement: If you want kids excited about learning, increase their involvement in the classroom. Make participating fun by assigning jobs that assist you and give them responsibilities. Most students will see classroom jobs as a privilege rather than a burden and will work hard to ensure that they, and other students, are meeting expectations. When students work in groups, assign each a task or role. Giving students a sense of ownership allows them to feel accomplished and encourages active participation in class.
Collaborative Learning: Provide time for students to work in groups from mini lessons to large projects. Students will be motivated to solve problems, do experiments, and work on projects with other students. The social interaction can get them excited about things in the classroom and students can motivate one another to reach a goal=
A few more Ideas for increasing excitement about learning:
- Play a short version of a team game like charades, Password, Taboo, Pictionary, etc.
- Do some magic
- Come to school in a fictional or historical
- Display a powerful quote and ask students to give their opinion
- Play music
- Show a YouTube video
- Ask class members to agree or disagree with a series of statements to encourage opinion ad student voice
- Have a classroom visitor share a story or lead any one of these ideas
Students, as most of us, look to others for approval and positive reinforcement. Students are more likely to be enthusiastic about learning if they feel their work is recognized and valued. By creating a culture of open communication and risk thinking, your students will feel important and valued. If the classroom is a friendly place where students feel heard and respected, they will be more eager to learn.
Remember: classes are like mirrors. They reflect the teacher’s attitude and energy. Give to them what you would like from them. #excitement #moreLEGOkids
cross posted at techinnovation.live
Dr. Matthew X. Joseph (@MatthewXJoseph) is currently Director of Digital Learning and Innovation for Milford Public School, Milford, Ma. Before Tech and Learning Boston 2018, he had the opportunity to present at #TLTechLive in Boston and New Jersey in 2017 and other state opportunities focused on Ed Tech Leadership and empowering teachers. Before Milford, he was a building principal for 11 years in Massachusetts. Other professional roles include: classroom teacher, PD specialist, and other district roles supporting technology instruction. Dr. Joseph holds licenses in general education, school administration, and MA superintendent. His master's degree is in SPED and he holds an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Boston College.