If you have been teaching for any length of time, you know one thing to be true above most others…there are no silver bullets. There is no “one thing” that will be able to fix all things in your classroom or for your students. There is not a magic teaching pill that will cause all students to learn, grow, and find success.
No, you no the very real reality that teaching, learning, and education take work. And I am not going to go against that. Not one bit.
There is much truth in the fact that you have got to be an active learner yourself and find out best practices and new ideas. You have to practice those best practices. You have to know your content. You have to be creative. You have to figure out new ways to plan and facilitate learning in your classroom. You have to keep up with technology and how to use it as a tool to help students learn more effectively. Speaking of students, you have to do the very challenging and messy work of getting to know them and building rapport and relationships with them. The same goes with your students’ parents, other teachers and staff, and administration.
Teaching is work. Difficult work. Rewarding work, true, but hard work.
Um, so far this post is pretty much the opposite of your title…where is the easy button?
Everything said so far is what we know in our teacher reality. But…there is one thing that does make all of this a lot easier and will increase student engagement in your class.
That easy button is….wait for it….
Oh no. Is this one of those times where you give the big build up and the one answer is me?
You guessed it. The easy button for making some of the hard parts of teaching and to increase engagement is, indeed, YOU!
Just like all of the other times I have set you up for a big secret in education, the key is you. Something inside of you and about you can unlock the easiness to making tough things seem less tough. One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Maya Angelou:
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.
There is so very much that we can change about education and what needs to happen in our classroom. We can’t change the content we are required to teach. We can’t change the students (not directly, at least). We can’t change their parents. We can’t change their home environments. We can’t change expectations from administration, districts, and the state (again, not directly). We can’t change what needs to happen for teaching and learning to truly happen in our classroom.
No, there is not very much that we can change in education…but we can change ourselves.
There is a lot of ways that we can change our attitudes as teachers, but I want to just focus on one…above all else, we need to love what we do!
I am not saying that we have to love all of the bureaucracy, paperwork, and struggles with the harsh realities that our students have to deal with…no, I am not sure that anyone should love that. I am saying that we need to love the fact that we get to teach students and open them up to wonders of the world and the awesomeness of fighting to understand something new and the thrill of the moment when it all clicks. We also get to have the hope of being a part of changing the lives of our students for the better and helping them realize how learning new things changes possibilities! That is what we live for. That is why we teach.
We need to love what we do!
We have to be excited about what we are teaching in our classes. If you don’t love all of your content, be excited about the way that you are teaching it! Don’t love how you teach something? TEACH IT DIFFERENTLY! You are in control of that. You have got to find a way to love what you teach and how you teach it! You have to! This is what makes students take notice and want to be engaged in the process of learning.
It is our passion and love of the teaching/learning process that draws students in. That is the key. That is the easy button. Our engagement in the process makes them not want to miss out and be a part of whatever has you so excited!
Think about the great teachers you have had or that you know…they were passionate about what they do, weren’t they? I bet the answer is yes.
Teachers who love and are passionate about teaching breed students who love and are passionate about learning.
Teacher, love what you do! Let it show. Make it obvious. The students will want a sip of what you are drinking, I promise! They will be engaged!
You are awesome. I bet I was preaching to the choir the whole time, wasn’t I? You do love what you do. You aren’t afraid to show it. Remember to keep that passion for teaching and learning going! Help students be ignited by your fire and their passion for learning will be contagious to others! Keep on loving what you do and keep on teaching, Teacher!