Carolism #6: Teach your students, but work your room
I’ve been guilty of staying up all night preparing material for tomorrow’s lesson. I get to school early to print off my handouts, I’ve practiced how I’m going to say certain terms and what stories I’ll use to make it relatable. I’ve found myself putting so much emphasis in creating content for knowledge that I didn’t consider the compass. This is something all educators will develop over time. We’ll learn the hard way when we give a test, confident that our students know the answers, and then during the grading process we’re faced with the reality that we failed them.
A teacher has two jobs. Fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that that knowledge doesn’t go to waste. – Mr. Holland’s Opus
This is why I talk so much about delivery methods. Delivery is key to moving that compass and too many teachers are teaching without working their room.
How to work your room
■ Know your space. Before the school year, you need to know the layout of the classroom, the view from sitting in each desk, what your voice sounds like in the room, what the Power Point looks like in the morning versus the afternoon depending on when the sun shines through the window, where you can walk and where you can’t. If you’re going to work the room, you need to know it.
■ Be animated. If you’re going to stand at the front, deliver content so that everyone feels your energy. Working your room is so much more than where you place your desks. Work it with voice inflection, hand movements, facial gestures and movement. Don’t become a talking head by standing behind a podium.
■ Class participation. Be a sporadic teacher who will pop-quiz your students out loud in the middle of a lesson. While I’m teaching any subject, I might say, “Katie, give me an example where that might happen to you in the workplace.” You have got to keep the attention of your students by involving them all day long.
■ Activities. Teach a lesson, take a test, move on to the next chapter. This is how I learned in school and I hated it. Incorporate activities each day, even if it’s a small one like getting them to hop on their phones and find five Google images relating to a topic you’re studying. Activities to correspond with your lesson plans are a must for every great teacher.
Read my blog post about setting up your classroom for other tips specific to your room, but when it comes to working it—that’s all you! Find a balance between teaching and delivery, and you’ll quickly discover how to move that compass. Don’t ever underestimate the power of an educator!