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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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In a previous post~ I discussed the importance of RAD~ or reflecting~ adjusting and delivering. In short~ it means thinking about your teaching approach and classroom~ making adjustments based on what works and doesn't~ then applying those insights.

This week~ I want to go through an actual RAD session~ by listing what worked for me this school year. In doing so~ I believe that you may grasp an idea or concept that could help your classroom. Likewise~ you might share a technique that I could borrow. Please remember these are suggestions~ meaning that they may not apply to your particular situation so choose what appeals to you and try it out during the coming school year.

Let's begin:

The following concepts worked for me this school year:

  • Movement:I tried to keep my students engaged by moving constantly. To praise a fellow classmate~ I had them perform a chant~ where they got up and moved around. During debates~ I had students move to one side or the other of the room when choosing positions. I even tried concepts such as Ninja Math Warrior~ based on the television show American Ninja Warrior~ where contestants must complete a grueling obstacle course. Instead~ I had students jump on a trampoline~ crawl across the floor Green Beret style~ punch karate pads~ before finally coming to the white board to solve a math problem.
  • Relevance: I always tried to tie my lessons to the real-world or the interest of my students. For example~ I used an economic system (borrowed from the great Rafe Esquith)~ where students had to work jobs~ pay rent and taxes~ and participate in auctions. However~ I took it a step further and required them to start their own businesses to see whether they could make a profit. When reading~ I constantly tied the content to their lives. For example~ if a character got lost in the woods~ I had them think of a time they got lost and share it with the class. I wanted them to feel what the characters were feeling.
  • Fun/laughter:We had fun and laughed~ a lot. Though it seems like my classroom is a blast every day~ I can become quite serious when teaching. I had to remember to keep it light and teach them to enjoy learning. Sometimes~ I would just tell a funny joke or act silly to loosen things up. Some days~ while gearing up for the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test~ I would give them balloons and allow them to pop them if they answered a question correctly within a minute. Other times~ I pulled out bubbles and just blew them around the classroom.
  • Parental Support:Granted~ I had some supportive parents~ but I encouraged parents to make sure my students turned in homework and studied for tests. I constantly e-mailed parents about their child's performance and provided study tips on how the kids could better prepare for upcoming tests and quizzes. Also~ I sent home practice tests~ complete with answer keys~ and asked parents to go through the tests with their children. Finally~ I e-mailed weekly newsletters home~ explaining the homework and the week's academic goals.
  • Time Management: I didn't waste time. I started teaching from the moment students walked into my classroom and kept teaching until the final bell. I kept transitions between subjects tight~ and did not allow students to waste time. I showed them that if they worked hard and used their time well~ they would have more time for recess and cool projects.
  • Discipline: I tried a preventive approach by making my lessons fun and engaging. I tried to create the impression that learning and being in my classroom was an honor and to misbehave was not appreciating that honor. However~ I disciplined when necessary~ and I did it quickly and without emotion. I simply use a system~ where students put their name and check marks on the white board if they break a rule. I also created a good rapport with the class and demonstrated trust and respect by being firm but not raising my voice or yelling to frighten them.
  • Out of the Box: Last~ but not least~ I tried to think out of the box and wasn't afraid to take chances. We transformed the classroom into a working hospital to teach the various body systems and invited students from other classes to visit. We reenacted the Battle of Alamo using water balloons. We used painted out math problems. We dressed as super heroes. Finally~ we played a game I call Crisis~ which involved students solving the world's problems through a simulation.

These are some of the concepts that worked for me. Feel free to borrow them or simply comment on them. Also~ I would love you to visit Ed World's innovative teaching group at http://community.educationworld.comcontent/rad-2-1?gid=NTEyMQ==and post some of your own success strategies.

Thank you~