Today I was running, however, I did not know why. Around mile two I wondered why I was out here running at a sustained pace. I wasn’t running to be healthy. I have read stories about the most athletic people dropping dead mid-run. My Dad was a cross-country runner all through high school and college and by the time he was in his mid-forties his Doctor told him he would need knee replacements. So this was not it. I’m not training for a t-shirt, I mean marathon. So that wasn’t it. Then it hit me. I was by myself, with my music, and I was simply enjoying where I was at the moment. The music was pushing each step and motivating me to run as opposed to my original plan of watching Phillies pre-game with hot wings and a Sam Adams.
But what if there was no music? Would I still be running? Honestly, no. I would be on the couch eating wings, enjoying a Sam Adams.
So, is there music in your classroom? Are you motivating your students to run, beyond their threshold or are they sitting on the couch, feeling only moderately satisfied.
This thought came to me as I was teaching my English Composition 101 class this week. The course is defined as a “lecture” course, however, I have never been good at lecturing, nor do I feel that it is the best way to present material to a class. At the collegiate level, however, this type of classroom instruction is applauded. While I feel there is definitely merit in presenting new information to a body that does not know it yet, I try and stay away from a straight lecture.
As I looked out over my audience I noticed a malaise over the faces of some of them. I was boring them. There was no music. This has to change. I emailed them all this week and promised them a more dynamic classroom next week, in which we will present, share, collaborate, and challenge each other academically. I apologized for boring lecture, but reminded them that all information that was presented was essential to our learning going forward.
So now I am faced with an interesting challenge that all teachers face daily: How do we play the music daily? How do we get our kids to want to run longer and faster; moving beyond their threshold and sprinting above and beyond? How do we elicit intrinsic motivation on a daily basis?
I don’t think there is one answer to this question and we, as teachers, certainly face it daily. As I set out on my iTeach180 project this coming week, I am seeking out ways in which I can present material to students that don’t exist, but will be dynamic enough for all teachers to incorporate into their classroom.
I hope the music is always on in your classroom and your students want to run that extra mile because they know you are running with them. Take a moment this week to look at your students while you are teaching. Is the music playing?