Thursday, April 28, 2016

There is Plenty of Room for Fun in Education

Perhaps the most powerful quote in this video is that it is okay to have fun while learning.

While too many educators these days eschew fun and enjoyment in their classrooms for the opportunity for students to complete wind-numbing worksheets, endure boring lectures, and pore over selected response items, it appears that some places have it about right.

Ron Clark is famous for two things:

1) Being portrayed by the dreamy Matthew Perry in the movie The Ron Clark Story.

2) Being an innovative, unstoppable, and ever-caring educator.

The video attached above is just one shining example of Clark's ability to cultivate a culture of love and caring and respect among students and staff at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia.

While this particular post refers to Clark's ability to foster greatness where it would otherwise be nonexistent, it is really a message to all of us about working with kids and being a mentor and guide to their own greatness. All through an avenue of "meeting them where they are" and having some fun!

Here are four key points to keep in mind (while they are not necessarily new, they all need to be re-remembered):

1. Be prepared - Fun does not just happen. Okay, well it does. But if you want to engage your students in purposeful fun and games embedded into content, you must have a method to your madness.

2. Be real - Make mistakes in front of your students and, more importantly, show them how to properly react to mishaps. If you get bent out of shape at the onset of a problem, guess what? Instead, have fun with mistakes and make them learning experiences for everyone.

3. Be genuine - If you merely pretend to care about a kid, he will see right through you. Genuine caring is palpable, just as a bull storm is. Make it work with your personality. Not everyone can dance like Ron, but we all have some way to inject fun into our daily routine.

4. Be there - Even when you have a bad hair day, you have to give your best effort to your students. Woody Allen once said, "80% of success is showing up." As a teacher, however, this is only true if you follow the advice above.

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