I learned a little trick a few years ago that started to change my classroom around. It wasn’t hard, or time-consuming. It was a very small thing that started evolving all my teaching practices and lesson plans. What did I do? I started making sure I had ONE engaging moment every day. This moment was for me and for my students.
When I Started Teaching
During my first year of teaching, I worked around the clock to skim by. I thought everything was fun and exciting. After all, ALL of this was fun and exciting… TO ME. Then my second year, my lessons got a little better and I could breathe for a moment from time to time. During my third year of teaching, things seemed to click even more. I wasn’t sure if things were engaging for my students, but I knew things needed to be more engaging for me!
Events would run together when I couldn’t tell the difference between one year and another. I decided then and there my goal was to make ONE thing engaging every day. I needed one moment to be engaging for my students to remember and one moment to be engaging for me to remember.
The #1 Reason
The reason to make ONE engaging moment a day is simple. My students deserved it. I want every student to want to come to my classroom every day. I want every student to have some sense of wonder at least one moment of every school day.
Another Good Reason
There is another reason that I needed one engagement moment every day; I need it. It really was like chicken soup for the teacher’s soul. I wanted something FUN to look forward to each and every day. I want to know something great IS going to wow these amazing kids and make them want to learn more. After all, don’t we teachers live for those light bulb moments? I can’t sit around and wait for them. I am going to create them each and every day.
What Happened Was Magic
One effect I recalled from my experiment with an engaging moment was perfection. My students didn’t want to miss a day of school, even when they were sick. Students actually tell me that they didn’t want to leave school because they didn’t know what would happen next but they didn’t want to NOT see it. I became a magician. Learning magic was occurring.
The Next Year
Now that I sprinkled a little magic of engagement into each day one year, my lesson plans got stronger and better. I could easily add a little more of a sprinkle the next year as well. I didn’t feel like I was doing more work, I was just working smarter. Actually, I feel like my kids were the ones who were working harder because they wanted to. They had more intrigue, interest, and desire than ever before. It was empowering and fun. My students’ engagement went up and I looked forward to these moments then their engagement moments went up and they looked forward to these moments. It was a huge spiraling circle.
Don’t Hide the Fun
Since my classroom is very hands-on, I don’t have a lot of paper evidence to send home to show their learning. To combat this problem, I am a master of photography and videos. I send pictures home via Classroom Dojo every school day in Class Story. My parents love seeing their kids laughing and giggling. They also have a great chance to have their child TELL them about the learning that is going on. This also means that my parents are not missing these learning moments, they are living them THROUGH their children’s eyes and recall at home.
Another Positive Effect
My goal was to create this amazing engagement lesson at least once a day for my students and myself. I never really considered how this could affect my parents, but it did. My parents commented on these fun moments regularly. I get messages from parents at least once a week telling me something amazing THEIR child did at home that connects to our learning. I also get tons of pictures of them showing their learning in action from their parents. Sometimes, parents even offer to come in to help with activities or send in items without me asking. I can only assume it is because they constantly see our learning in action and want to help keep this spark alive.
What About You?
My challenge for myself… can now go to you. What if YOU challenged yourself to add one engagement moment a day? What if you gave yourself something FUN to look forward to? And what if you gave your students something magical to look forward to every day? How can you make that happen? What sprinkles of learning magic can you integrate into the day?
Keep reading for Examples of Engaging Moments in Math by clicking here.