It’s that time of the year again… The slate is clean — and so is your chalkboard. Before the student rush comes in, you’re slowly transitioning out of vacation-mode and heading straight into planning-mode for the school year ahead.
It’s New Year’s Eve 2.0: The School Year Edition.
As with the New Year, it’s time to reflect on the past, consider the future, and maybe even make some classroom resolutions.
- What do you want to pass on to your students this year?
- What worked well last year?
- Will you change anything in your teaching strategy this time around?
- What new ideas will you implement this upcoming school year?
- Is it time to try something new?
Of course, it’s always time to “try something new.” But, just as with the “original” New Year and the inevitable resolutions that follow — year after year, many of us have the same problem: we get enthralled by the potential and freshness of new ideas, and then — we get busy. Unfortunately, “as soon as the day-to-day routine starts, our old habits take over […]” (From: Pernille Ripp / Some Small Ideas for Implementing Change in the New Year).
Never Fear, The Learning Superhero Is Here!
“If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child,
they will learn without any further assistance.
Children are natural learners;
it’s a real achievement to put that particular ability out, or to stifle it.”
Deeper resolutions, drastic behavior changes, and extreme planning aside — there is one simple and time-saving teaching strategy that doesn’t require a major shift in your curriculum, or with the tools you normally use. It’s based on a valuable resource that’s readily available to you: the endless supply of kids’ curiosity.
Making curiosity your ally in the classroom saves time, expands your horizons, and gives room for everyone’s inner creative souls to breathe. Here’s how:
5 Ways to Make “The Big C” Part of Your Lesson Planning Process
1) Get inspired; make it stick.
Kids are an endless source of questions. Their natural curiosity provides you with an endless supply of custom-tailored, organically-formed, and neatly packaged inspiration for planning your lessons.
So, the next time you find yourself frantically scanning the web at 2:00AM for classroom inspirations that you’re sure your students will truly respond to — chill out, and look no further than your students themselves. Still in a pickle? Check out our Curiospirations: quick and easy classroom-ready warmups, inspired by kids’ curious questions from around the world — updated weekly.
2) Get on with it; focus on what matters.
When it comes to natural curiosity, the general rule of thumb sounds a little something like this: if they asked, they want to know. So, you have their attention — guaranteed. We don’t need to tell you twice that when kids are engaged, they require less discipline and create less distractions. So, you don’t need to worry about keeping everyone on track or making sure everyone is paying attention — you’re free to just get on with your lesson, like a breeze.
3) Go outside; boost concentration.
There’s a whole world out there full of intrigue, mystery, and wonder. Take your kids out for an impromptu adventure, and see what you’ll discover together! Kids learn better when they can experience the answer to their question with their senses. Real-world examples and hands-on activities appeal to their interest and spark their curiosity even further. And of course, it’s no secret that a change of scenery, coupled by some good old fashioned exercise has incredibly positive effects on childrens’ concentration.
4) Bring the outside in; get creative.
Curiosity isn’t just for kids! Do you know anyone who has remained passionately curious throughout their lifetime, or who makes it his or her duty to understand the nature of things, and constantly make new discoveries?
Scientists, artists, and passionate professionals all qualify as naturally curious adults. This makes them the ideal types of people to share some knowledge, make a connection, and inspire your students. Network with these types of people; expand your horizons, and broaden the potential of your lesson plans by inviting these curious adults to speak in your classroom or to design special activities for your kids. This way, you don’t have to feel the pressure when one of your kids asks you a far-out question that you just can’t answer.
Remember, you don’t have to be an expert at everything — sometimes it’s even more interesting to provide the answer from an external, unfamiliar source. This way, you introduce your kids to real-life role models, get them in touch with their community, and show them another world they won’t normally be exposed to in the classroom.
5) Start early; instill valuable life-skills.
Curiosity is one of the most desirable competencies of the 21st century. The ability to wonder why is the driving force behind many of the innovations and successes that characterize our times. Given the rapid rate of technological development over the past few years, it’s become increasingly difficult to even imagine what creative — and seemingly far-fetched — innovations will be realized in the not-so-distant future.
One thing we do know: the ability to tap into our curious nature will allow us to ask the right questions, and to collectively work towards discovering and creating their answers.
Maybe there’s a future Nobel Prize-winner sitting right in your classroom,
only a few questions away from his or her next big discovery?
The Evolution of the Human Mind
There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in the same old routine and ceasing to be inspired and excited by the very thing that makes up most of our day. Cultivating a classroom environment with an openness towards asking questions allows your students the safe space they require in order to develop, learn, and grow — and is entirely a mutually beneficial pursuit.
The next time you find yourself slipping into the same old same old, [https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_how_to_escape_education_s_death_valley] keep in mind Ken Robinson’s three main principles required for the human mind to flourish:
- Human beings are naturally different and diverse.
- Curiosity is the driver for learning, and the engine for achievement.
- Human life is inherently creative.