As a teacher, I want to be interesting. I want my students to want to be in my class.
In fact, my philosophy of education has always been rooted in a line from Billy Joel’s Piano Man:
Cause he knows that it’s me they’ve been coming to see To forget about life for a while.
But a student’s perpetual compliant about school is that it’s “so boring.” (Heck, it was my complaint when I was slugging my way through high school 20 years ago.)
But now a teacher myself, I know the job of a teacher is never boring. Teachers are never just teachers. They are therapists, philosophers, referees, doctors, mechanics, meteorologists, secretaries and rodeo clowns.
Teaching requires you to switch professions on a dime. It also requires you to develop new skills, ask deep questions and be a curious and relentless learner.
In short, to be a successful teacher you need to be interesting.
When you’re interesting, students want to be in your class. And when you create such interest, students more willingly immerse themselves in the wonders of the learning process and “forget about life for awhile.”
An administrator once told me that I had to stop telling stories in the classroom. I reacted to the edict by returning to my classroom, opening up my personal anthology and telling even more stories then ever before.
Stories are my bread and butter. If I can’t tell stories, I don’t want to be a teacher anymore.
Stories are how I communicate complex concepts and ideas to my students.
When used properly (not just to waste time or glorify how awesome you are) stories are a fantastic way to hook students into your classroom narrative. A narrative centered on your subject, communicated by you.
2.Teach Life Lessons
You’re older than your students. You’ve been around the block.
Your experience with things like failure and regret and joy and love harbor a wealth of teaching material. By tying your content into the human condition allows students to see how the content relates to things beyond the cinder blocks of school.
I wear khaki pants and canvas Adidas sneakers to school everyday. My “uniform” serves as good fodder for classroom jokes. Jokes that weave into the fabric of the classroom.
Everyone, especially students, love to be a part of an inside joke. Inside jokes are shared experiences that create connections, deepen relationships and show your students that you have a sense of humor.
4.Listen more and ask more questions
Sometimes, you just need to step back and let your students have the floor.
You don’t need to be the center of attention to be an interesting teacher. By really listening to your students and asking them questions about their interests and integrating their interests into your lessons you will establish yourself as a teacher (and an adult) who really listens.
5. Flaunt Your Funk
If you teach middle-school or high school, most of your students think your weird.
It’s hard for students to imagine their teacher having interests that reach beyond the subject matter they teach. But bringing your other interests, your funk into the classroom is a great way to tell more of your story.
Interesting teachers have the audacity to be themselves. They flaunt their funk. It’s what makes them interesting and inspires students to embrace and flaunt there own funkiness.
6. Listen to Podcasts
Listening to podcasts is a great way to be mentally productive outside of the classroom.
7. Connect Your Content to Current Events
Teachers often get so wrapped up in daily demands of teaching that we forget that there is a world outside our school walls.
A world that both you and your students are experiencing.
Connecting content to the current world offers students perspective on a current and common subject. These connections help to captivate students while allowing them to see that school content is relatable to the happenings of the world.
8. Be Positive
By nature, adolescents are an angsty bunch. And looking past the negativity in their lives is difficult.
As a teacher, you have the power to establish the mood in your classroom. By being positive, by leaving your own baggage at home, you offer students a fresh perspective and attitude that they will gravitate toward because they want to be positive but when your 15, being miserable is the cool thing to do.
Being an interesting teacher goes a long way in your classroom and in the lives of your students. You have the unique power to be a positive, interesting force in lives of your students that will shape important attitudes they have about school and learning.