Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Classroom Tip #6: Deliver Entertainment

I don't like being bored. I dread it.  I want to be entertained.

Not much has changed in this confession of who I am now and who I was at virtually all stages of my life!

Nothing hurts more than experiencing boredom-- in a job, at a party, a phone conversation or a movie I'm watching.  Boring is downright painful, so please don't ask me to sit through it.

If that's the case, how can I expect my students to learn (or even like) English, if I make it boring for them?

And what in turn, would make me want to teach a subject I'm bored by?

I'm going to let you in on a secret:

I like to have fun when I teach.  

I do.  I'm like a TV actor requiring motivation for my character's script. Some lessons, like the dialogue of a script, can feel rolled out and flat, so I must find my motivation for speaking my lines. I need to inject a bland script with passion and intention or risk my audience changing the channel.

How do I turn boring into fun?

This is something many people wrestle with; not only teachers or students. Some wrestle with it throughout their life and it usually rears its head, when there's been a loss of play and passion.

You have to seek and create your own fun.

For me and teaching, this means either, injecting my personal interests into it, setting up enjoyable challenges for myself or searching for a point of interest I can connect with.

For instance, I hate singing...with a passion! So when it comes to teaching the chant/song section to my students, I must find a way to inject enough "love" into this exercise, to counter balance my hate for it. Fortunately, I love dance and many of these chants ask for a bit of motion and choreography to make it fun for the kids to do. Thus, I make my choreography fun so I can really get into the dancing aspect. This in turn, makes singing much much more likeable.

Make your content engaging with your students' interests.

If I had to learn about comparatives, how would my elementary self would've liked to learn it? If I had to employ photo visuals in my lessons what kind of pictures would I have found fun at that age? MTV knows about delivering entertainment to youth. They program for targeted age groups and get to know their viewers' musical preferences, clothing styles, actors and issues. Same with teaching ESL. Making your content appealing with Korean pop bands or animations, getting to know their cultural preferences and favorite foods, sports stars, ... I've even seen teachers use photos of scenes that fellow students/classmates acted out, to drive the lesson. This all helps to engage and seduce students into learning via their personal interests.

 Deliver entertainment

It all comes down to being a teacher-tainer (part teacher, part entertainer) in the classroom. Many teachers I know get a kick out of this part, mostly because you get to be more dramatic, expressive, exaggerated. Your teaching tools are your eyes, body, voice and facial expressions. I actually find it liberating. In most cases, I can be as silly or exaggerated in my expressions as I want; and the more of it I am, the more my students find me fun and engaging. Best of all, with teacher-taining, I realize I not only entertain my students but also myself in the process!

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