‘All Night’ – Steve Aoki and Lauren Jauregui

“You’ve got me paralyzed.”

What a vivid metaphor for engagement.

How many times a year are kids actually “paralyzed” by the content they are receiving? Where they can say, “And I think I like it”?

Well, in order to like something, one has to be interested in it. I feel this is one of the key areas why we aren’t connecting with our students. What 9 or 10 year old has a heartfelt interest in algebraic thinking or text-dependent analysis?

I’ll wait…

Yeah, I thought so.

These kids are walking into a building knowing that they are going to be faced with 45 minutes to an hour of content that is of no actual interest to them. I can’t fault them for feeling that way. It’s kind of like when I have to sit in professional development for something anathema to my position, or even worse, something on which I’ve already received training (but that’s another blog topic altogether).

Ultimately, it is up to us as educators to take the state-mandated content handed down to us and spice it up with some robust flavor. How do we do that? We’ve got to get to know our students!

This is as simple as doing an interest inventory at the beginning of the year and throughout the year, conversing with kids at lunch and recess, allowing them to journal and freewrite about their favorite things, and actually becoming interested in our kids as HUMAN BEINGS before acknowledging them as little learners.

One teacher in my school last year paired reading strategies with dance moves from the popular Fortnite game. GENIUS. Back in the day, I used an iCarly episode to teach economics. The worse thing that came out of that was a class-wide obsession with penny tees, but I can guarantee you those 5th graders understood monopolies, supply and demand, and workers unions. We’re these kids paralyzed? Ever watched a 10 year old glued to the television?

You know what? I think they liked it.

For more ways to get to know your students, check out this blog post from Cult of Pedagogy.

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