Hello readers! I hope everyone’s New Year has been going well! I’m sorry for taking so long to post a blog post but some changes have been happening. I recently acquired a part time job where I am an education specialist in an after-school program, similar to an education coach in a traditional day school setting. In my new position I have been working at an elementary school which has been almost a refreshing pace from the usual middle school happenings during my day job. My position entails that I support the after-school instructors by helping to modify lesson plans and providing pedagogical insight.
However, something I’ve noticed as I observed these instructors and their management of younger children is that a lot of those techniques could be used with older children. Simple cool downs and warm ups from playing kiddy songs to brain breaks to incorporating moments for fun and kids to be kids does add much to the classroom. For example, when I observed a kindergarten class doing exercises and simple routines with videos from GoNoodle like “Hello” and “Chili Chili”, I was so enthralled that I brought it to my seventh grade classroom and now it is a huge hit with the kids! At first, of course, I got the eye roll and the ‘are we really doing this?’ comments but they quickly got over its silliness and now lead our stretch breaks with them.
It can’t be stated enough that though the students may appear to be older as they’re going through the awkward puberty and pre-adolescent phases that comes with being in middle school, they are still kids at heart and enjoy the simpler things too. One time I had to cover a second grade class briefly and decided to introduce a game where students had to build the tallest tower using only seven sheets of construction paper. The competitiveness and creativity of such a simple project engaged them so quickly! It really made me think of how else I could incorporate moments like that in my own classroom.
One other tool I have tried recently in my own classroom was by incorporating more music in my class. Kids love music and though I have never been opposed to using it before, I have never been consistent in having it until this year. I pay special attention to my timers used in class and making sure it had something sort of catchy (with no lyrics of course!) and not too distracting to keep them engaged in their work. I recently discovered lo fi music which is defined as undesired sounds in regular pop or hip-hop and R&B music but is synthesized to make a sort of relaxing, ambient sound. I found some on Youtube to include for my timers and it definitely helps get my classroom excited to do work!
Even though my job as an educator does require rigor and challenging tasks to push my students, that certainly doesn’t mean class can’t and shouldn’t be fun. Students are people and deserve fun and moments to just be kids as well. I’m constantly learning from my new job and bring back pieces to add to my own classroom and am enjoying how it adds to my classroom culture. Perhaps you can take a step back too to find out how you can incorporate some simple and fun activities to your own classroom or work environment. You’ll be more grateful when you do!