In December, last year I was honored to be named in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014. The bloggers on this list have been asked to contribute to Huffington Post’s Education blogs for 2015. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “What was your most challenging classroom and how did you turn it around? – here is my response:
Firstly to understand my perspective when writing this piece I want you to understand my definition of ‘challenging’ in the classroom setting.
To me, challenging is not necessarily a behavioral issue, but any situation where students are not engaged in learning, causing stress or pressure on the educator.
Instead of highlighting a specific moment in my classroom, I want to discuss my thoughts on how students get to this point and how I make sure this doesn’t happen. If I ever have students that get to the point where they are ‘challenging’, I question my teaching style and the methods I use to engage students in my classroom.
As an educator, I always strive to learn my students names and something about them within the first week. Building a positive rapport is EVERYTHING to me. Know your student’s strengths, abilities, learning styles and make a connection.
To stay energized, I don’t lecture a lot in class, and when I do I pretend I am keynoting at ISTE. I get them hanging off the edge of their seats to soak in every word that comes out of my mouth. I make learning fun and engage them in their learning. Did you know that the brain retains 5% of what is lectured and 90% of what is actively engaged! As a result, I have very few ‘challenges’ arise in my classroom.
Another way I have ‘turned around’ a challenging situation is through active student voice. Student’s need to understand that learning is in their hands and there are opportunities to lead their own learning. When educators and students share responsibility for teaching and learning, the performance of both improves. When we stand together, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.
As an educator, I am under no illusion that I am in an extremely fortunate position. Teaching in a well-resourced school that looks after me and supports me. They are selective of students (I am in a private international school) both academically and behaviorally which means that the ‘challenges’ I deal with on a day-to-day basis are not the reality for 95% of the teachers around the world. However, I have been there, done that as well, and know from firsthand experience that while challenging, situations of extreme student learning needs and behavior can be extremely rewarding.
Educators are heroes and I am privileged to be connected with thousands of them through Social Media. They are my Professional Learning Network (PLN), my source of knowledge and ideas and my inspiration.
Keep inspiring, stay connected and don’t be afraid to ask for support if you need it. I believe that a challenge is where the learning process begins and to me that is what being an educator is all about!