If I Were a Teacher….

Driving home with my 10 year old son in the car, radio humming and windows down, he suddenly announced “If I were a teacher and I wanted my students to like me, I would be nice and be fun”.

This made me smile.  Isn’t it so simple?

Relationships, relationships, relationships!

I asked him what else he would do, and he started rattling off all the things he would do and I said “hang on, I want to write some of this down!” When we arrived home a few minutes later we sat down and here’s how it went…

On the first day I would have a quiz, just random, hardly any would be maths or spelling questions (shaking his head)  just fun questions and brain teasers.  If someone gets it right they would … I would have one of those…. you know…. baskets of Haigh’s freckle chocolates, and they would get to choose one.

I would do that every two weeks.

WHY?

Just making sure that they are keeping up with their learning and are having fun.

Just the most delicious chocolate in the world! South Australians know this to be true!

Just the most delicious chocolate in the world! South Australians know this to be true!

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU DO?

Each week when we have fitness, I would let kids decide what they want to do. They could make up games and then they could make a book of the games. They could choose or vote from the games in the book.

ANYTHING ELSE?

I would make sure I was keeping the class fun. 

HOW DO YOU KEEP THE CLASS FUN?

By doing lots of fun activities. I would read Andy Griffiths books to the whole class, if they were in year 3 or below and if they were in year 4 and above I would read Skulduggery Pleasant to them.

Favourites of many in Junior Primary kids Australia. My son still reads them and laughs.

Favourites of many Junior Primary kids in Australia. My son still reads them and laughs.

WHAT ARE FUN ACTIVITIES?

Fitness, drama, free play, reading every day, science experiments, clay animations, movie making, making wikis but not too many worksheets.

WHAT ABOUT HOMEWORK, WOULD THERE BE HOMEWORK?

Yeah. 

BUT IS HOMEWORK FUN?

No, but you kinda have to don’t you? You would get fired wouldn’t you?

But it would be better.  I would give a challenge everyday. And the next day I would ask “Who did it?” It would be something like …. carry 5 marbles with chopsticks (and I would give them chopsticks and marbles – but I would ask who has marbles because some might have them) then they would have to carry each marble from one bowl to another with the chopsticks and they would time themselves or I would set a time like a minute. It wouldn’t matter it they were the fastest because there wouldn’t be a prize or anything.  And if they couldn’t do it, the next day I would set them a different challenge and say “maybe that’s not your cup of tea, how about try your luck on this one?” or if they did do it I would make the challenge harder by increasing the distance or number of marbles. If they didn’t like it and found it boring, they could just tell me and I would find another challenge or if they had an idea they could tell me.

To tell you the truth, I was expecting him to say something like “I would let them play minecraft” or “everyone would have an iPad” or “I would never make them go to assembly”!  Instead, he has actually connected with things he has experienced at school that he has found fun. My eyes may have rolled when he said “free time”, but honestly if I actually watched what he did during that free time, I bet he would be huddled with a group of his peers constructing things from lego or playing board games.  This “free time” could easily be substituted with a concept like genius hour.

Most of the things he suggests include challenge.  If you have ever done claymation, or made an iMovie, or contributed to a wiki, you would know that it takes patience, collaboration and plenty of resilience (or is that just me?).  He gives examples of how he would enable choice, student input and feedback!  If he came home with a chopstick challenge, I would be over joyed! No doubt the whole family would get involved in that challenge (not something he has done at school, but read about in one of several Guinness Book of Records he owns).

This classroom DOES sound like fun and lots of learning. I think I would like him as a teacher too, sign me up! Children are experts at fun, so if we want to vamp our classrooms to be more engaging, why wouldn’t we get their input? Last year I wrote about getting input from our whole student cohort (see here), again they were filled with ideas of what makes a good teacher.

My son is also new to blogging, you can check out his blog here.

2 comments

  1. Joy Kirr

    What an ingenious idea, letting Finn go on and on about what he’d do if he were a teacher! Thank you for sharing this with us. I do give my students one day a week to choose their learning. Our Genius Hour is sacred time – always the first day of the week – and I hear cheering when they realize this, even though our weeks sometimes start on a Wednesday! It’s amazing to see what 7th graders want to learn or create! I only have them for 80 min./day, and I teach ELA, but it’s worth it to see them excited about learning.
    Kudos to you and Finn – you’ll always be life-long learners!
    Sincerely,
    Joy Kirr (@JoyKirr)

    • rhonimcfarlane

      Thanks for your comments Joy. We have so much to learn from children and their perspective. Sometimes I wish I could record everything my son says! I love “Genius Hour”. This year my team have agreed to have our students set personal learning goals alongside their academic and social/emotional goals. This could be ANYTHING from learning to play an instrument or building a chicken coup to learning calligraphy, who knows. I am very excited to see what they come up with and supporting their challenge. George Couros @gcouros shared this via twitter http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Ncq27mZq6b4#! which is yet another reminder of the challenges we can achieve if we are prepared to take a risk and feel a little fear. Young people provide examples everyday of such bravery and we should stop interfering so much, get out of the way and let them explore their passions. We might just be inspired to do the same!

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