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September is Here – Let the Fun Begin

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by Neil Finney

The smell of freshly-cut grass on the soccer field surrounds you as you make your way down the newly-waxed hallways to your classroom door. You enter the vacant – and quiet – room and your wheels begin to spin with all the possibilities and ideas of how to craft this year’s learning space. Your filing cabinets emptied of left-over handouts and whiteboards wiped clean from June’s math problems – you are ready to begin again. Just remember one thing while you plan and prepare – have fun with your students.

Sometimes we get so focused on the day-to-day busy-ness that we overlook great opportunities that help to establish rapport and build a positive climate with our students. Sure, you’re the teacher. But you’re also a person. Perhaps you’re a person that loves to paint or sing or shoot baskets. Whatever the case may be and where your interests lie, you can model participation, risk-taking and enthusiasm when you join in to the learning activities your students experience.

What other profession gives you the chance to play Dodgeball, create stained-glass art, or learn how to play drums – all while performing “work” obligations?

Through the years, I have enjoyed so many wonderful experiences with the students in my classes. Many had nothing to do with “traditional” classroom teaching. Throwing the football with intermediate students during recess or being in a primary “tag game” while on duty – my involvement brings smiles to student faces and shows them that I care.

I have especially grown from the things that I have done in a teaching role that I would never choose to do on my own. Dancing on the gym stage to YMCA during a student dance, letting students do my make-up (while dressed as a woman) to fund-raise for cancer, even singing lead vocals to Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” during a Rock Band game – well, maybe the Bon Jovi is not really out of the ordinary for me…

By stepping outside your comfort zone from time-to-time and trying new experiences, you can model confidence, perseverance and spirit to your students. By watching you try new things, your students will see more of your “human” side. Be a facilitator and an inspiration – not just an authority figure. Show your passions and enjoy your time with them. You will be modeling terrific learning skills and setting a positive example for them. Hey – you may even have some fun.

How do you have fun with your students? Share a time with us that you stepped outside your comfort zone, as a teacher, to try something new. Do you think it changed your student’s view of you? Why or why not?

 

During Neilʼs 9 years of teaching experience, he has taught in London, England; Ontario; public and private schools; elementary and secondary; junior; intermediate; core french; developmental skills; and now junior gifted (grades 4,5,6). He is a Reading Specialist that has been incorporating technology in his practice consistently throughout his career. Neil has recently published his first book entitled “Ignite. Incite. Inspire.” – Examining 21st Century Issues in Education, which is a collection of teaching articles and posts written from January to December 2011.

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