The Perks of Being a Crazy Teacher
I’ve come to realize that being an effective teacher means being a crazy teacher. If you lecture and speak in a monotone voice, you won’t engage students which means classroom management problems out the wazoo. And nobody wants classroom management problems.
When I gave my first grammar lesson to the seniors, I explained that both adverb and adjectival phrases begin with prepositions. I then had a flashback to third grade when we had to sing the preposition song. I looked at all the seniors and asked, “You all know the preposition song, right?”
I was greeted with blank stares. And then a bout of crazy overtook my body: “Do you want me to sing it?”
Motivated by their sudden interest in prepositions, I took a deep breath and began: “About, above, across, after, against, along. Among, around, at, before, behind, besides, between, beyond…”
When I finished I formatively assessed the class to check for understanding. They all smiled at me, even my cooperating teacher. I continued, “So anyway, that’s the preposition song. Each adverb and adjectival phrase must start with a preposition.”
I felt silly, but for some odd reason I think I have a better rapport with them now. It’s also fun to threaten them with the song. If they’re misbehaving or if they can’t think of a preposition, all I have to say is, “Don’t make me sing the preposition song again,” and they shape up quicker than you could imagine.
Another instance of crazy happened at the end of my first lesson with the freshmen. In Penny Kittle fashion, I end every class with a poem of the day. The first poem I read to them was “We Real Cool.” I love the poem because it breaks the stereotype of sing-song poetry.
When I finished reading the poem, I looked up and was met with stares of complete confusion. I could read their minds: What the heck was that? Who is this crazy teacher?
It was awesome.
I think that a little (or a lot of) crazy makes teaching instruction better. I hope the seniors remember that it’s okay to go out on a limb and be different. I hope the freshmen realize poetry isn’t one-size-fits-all.
And I hope I remember that crazy is good. Especially when working with teenagers.