It occurs to me that one of the qualities of a successful teacher is that, in the course of their work, they are constantly thinking about other people – their pupils.
Working with trainee teachers, I was always delighted to observe the change in thinking from “what am I teaching” to “what do I want my pupils to learn”, because this shift in perspective usually indicates a much better understanding of what makes good learning and teaching.
So this means that teachers are always involved in the search for activities to engage pupils and are really pleased to find something which their students enjoy doing, because that brings a greater likelihood that they are learning at the same time as having fun.
But then I wondered – what learning activities do teachers like to use because they enjoy them themselves? To be selfish for a moment – what do you love to do in the classroom?
One of my own personal favourites is Quiz Quiz Trade (you can find an explanation in this post), because it means I can be peripherally involved, do some formative assessment, and the pupils are moving around the room (not stuck to their chairs), and asking as well as answering questions.
To get a broader view, I then asked my Twitter amici “What’s the teaching/learning activity you love to use because you enjoy it?”
Here are some of the answers which I received
- pass the teddy
- X&O, hunt the object/flashcard
- blindfold food tasting and naming
- write dialogues\scenes and then act them out.
- fashion show, cafe (even inviting parents in) and songs.
- anything which takes me out of the picture; e.g. Running Dictation
- Shoe box decorated as a room (doll’s house furniture), then video with running commentary a la Through the Keyhole.
- I love the game ‘snatch’ takes forever to make but the kids love it and you can play match up, word and picture bingo with cards
- “remote-control partner”, with big open space e.g. footie field/sports hall and lots of those little cone thingies
- Cheat! Makes me completely redundant once I’ve made the cards. I also like post-it mania or headbands as I believe it’s called?
- Pass the parcel – brilliant with sentence stems – very little time required to set it up.
Now although these are a varied bunch of activities, two things struck me about this collection of responses.
Firstly, although some of them may take a little preparation, the majority then hand control over to the pupils. To me, this doesn’t indicate laziness on the part of the teachers, or a wish to opt out. It’s promoting active learning, with the teacher as facilitator and not as holder of all knowledge.
And secondly, there’s the fun element. The #mfltwitterati all shared activities which are fun for everyone involved, teacher and pupil alike. Fun, which means engagement, involvement, and perhaps even forgetting that it’s work. On both sides.
It may be a bit much of a stretch to link this to the quote by Confucius: ”Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”, but I do think it’s true that in what can be a tremendously demanding and stressful job, planning things which are fun for everyone involved makes the job a little easier, and much more enjoyable.