Friday, April 20, 2012

A Classroom Full of Crickets

We are all familiar with the infamous Charlie Brown Teacher. Wonder if you’ve ever sounded like that to your students? Sorry, but the answer is, most likely. Especially if you’ve ever looked out into a sea of blank stares a time or two in the middle of a lesson. (We’ve all been there, don’t feel bad.) Nothing is worse then a Classroom Full of Crickets. And what are those crickets really hearing you say?  

---> Pillar 3: “Nothing Great was Ever Achieved Without Enthusiasm”

This quote, by Ralph Waldo Emerson, is a personal favorite of mine. It’s a universal statement at its best. No matter how you cut it, without enthusiasm, there just isn’t a whole lot going on.

So how can you bring enthusiasm into your classroom?

1. SwItCh It Up!

This is where the fine line between structured routine and boring monotony needs to be drawn. A classroom can be structured and managed without being unpredictably mind numbing. While the routines and rules of your classroom should be set in stone, your lessons and instruction should not. Switch up your activities and keep students on their toes. This will not only keep kids motivated and engaged, but will help you to reach all of those students who learn in such different ways.

2. Don’t forget the Anticipatory Set!

This is that brief activity or event before your lesson that focuses students on the day’s learning objectives, activates prior knowledge, and most importantly, gets students engaged. This part of the lesson plan was drilled to me in college, and is identified as one of the 8 components of a successful lesson plan. There is a reason for this: It is crucial to your instruction! I call the anticipatory set, “The Hook.” Hook your students in the beginning, and you hook them into your lesson. Hook = Motivation. Be creative, and be interactive. And for the record, “Take out your notes from yesterday and open to Page 37” does not count.

3. Be A Role Model For Enthusiasm

You cannot expect your students to be engaged in your instruction when you aren’t yourself. While we all have an enthusiasm for teaching, there is often some part of the curriculum we find ourselves dreading to instruct. Be it the content doesn’t interest you, or you know the topic will be a struggle for students to grasp, and you just don’t know where to start. While it may be easy to trudge through and move on, don’t cheat yourself and your students. If there is a reason you aren’t particularly thrilled, there is a reason your students aren’t either. So figure out what makes the content dull or what you don’t like about it, and start making some changes.

I’m reminded of a fellow teacher who was unexpectedly thrown into 6th grade Social Studies curriculum. While most would’ve worked out of the textbook, she knew she would need to do more to keep herself and her students entertained. During the Ancient Greece Unit, she decided to create her own Student Olympics outside, complete with traditional games. Would middle school kids buy into it? Definitely. And not because they were allowed to go outside. This teacher created teams, brought in costumes, and assigned students to make mascots, chants, signs, and prizes. Fun? You bet. It was hard to tell who had a better time, this teacher or her students. Now that is what enthusiasm can look like. 

Want this poster for your classroom? Buy it here!


  1. Hi! I'm your newest follower:) Stop by and visit me...

  2. I’m your newest follower. Please check out my blog if you get a chance. Calling Plays in 2nd Grade.
    Thanks, Shanell