As teachers, we always want to create joy in the classroom as it facilitates more learning and certainly faster learning. The challenge is HOW do we create joyful learning in the classroom? HOW do we infect our students with enthusiasm? How do we bring fun and JOY in the classroom? Here are some simple techniques which will help us have the most joyful learning possible.
I remember my English teacher Ms. Kalha in college quite vividly and her wonderful statement “Education is what is left behind after the textbooks have been forgotten”.
If this IS indeed so, then lets embark on the journey of making education a joyful experience. What happens inside schools has a deep and lasting effect on the mind-sets that children develop toward lifelong learning. A teacher affects eternity and one can never tell when his influence stops.
JOY 1: Find the Pleasure in Learning
If we want students to be charged with enthusiasm, if we want them to see school and learning as joyful, we need to rethink how and what we teach. Let them enjoy learning as well as they enjoy games. Find ways to increase laughter in the classroom.
JOY 2: Music and Rhythm
Many of the things I remember most easily were learned with song. Ask your students to create songs and rhythm when learning something new and they will remember much longer and have an easier time retrieving the information for a test.
JOY 3: Give Students Choice
I tell my students to decide on the topic they want to study for that week and then as “experts” they will teach the next week. Try this in your classroom.
JOY 4: Let Students Create Things
People like to create things. The list of what students can create across the curriculum is virtually limitless: newspapers and magazines, brochures, stories, picture books, posters, PowerPoint presentations, interviews, oral histories, models, diagrams, blueprints and floor plans, plays and role-plays, mock trials, photographs, paintings, songs, surveys, graphs, documentary videos etc.
JOY 5: Show Off Student Work
I tell my teacher education students that the walls of their classrooms should speak to people; they should say exactly what goes on in that space throughout the school day. I can tell what teachers value by simply walking into their classrooms and looking at the walls.
JOY 6: Towards Holistic Learning
The new challenges that we face in the 21st century with the advent of information technology necessitate a systemic change towards a model of holistic learning that is experiential and linked to real-life situations. Find situations that help students incorporate what they learned in their everyday lives.
JOY 7: Get Outside
We adults know all too well that fresh air, trees, and a sunny day can do miracles for the human spirit. In an era where recess and playgrounds are being taken away, get your classes, no matter what the age, outside to reinvigorate and rejuvenate their learning. As a teacher, I often take my students outside to read, write, or have a class meeting. It is delightful for a student to sit under a tree and read or for a class to sit in a circle on the grass and talk. Ecosystems are all around us.
JOY 8: Read Good Books
Everyone loves a good story. All students enjoy a good story so allow books beyond your texts simply for the sake of student enjoyment!
Teaching As Joyful Experience
A teacher is like a candle who burns itself to give light to others.
Here is an Indian scripture which personifies my view of teachers.
Even If I make the paper of Entire Earth;
And I turn all the forests into a huge pen;
And convert all the seven oceans as Ink for this pen;
I will not be able to THANK MY TEACHER ENOUGH!
Amita Puri, Ph.D. is a teacher and teacher trainer with Army Institute of Education, New Delhi, India. She has been conducting workshops for preservice and inservice teachers for the last 20 years and specializes in educational psychology and guidance counseling.
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