Day 4

Once again did about the same thing as the day before. I think from here on I’ll be using the even days to reflect on certain aspects of my pedagogy, whether it be good, bad, or ugly.

To start it up I just wanted to write a short piece about how important the teacher’s enthusiasm level is for the class. I can’t think of any other factor that better correlates with how the class progresses. A children’s minister described it to me once in terms of levels: high, medium, and low. He went on to say that the students, on average, would always occupy the enthusiasm level directly below the instructor, even for the very best teachers and performers. Therefore it is absolutely necessary to bring it every day to get students where they need to be.

When I did my student teaching at Starkville High School, there was one teacher that all the students loved and I always wondered why (not that he was a bad guy, but from the outside it just didn’t seem like he was doing anything different). The teacher taught all of the upper level math courses (AP calculus, trig, pre-cal, etc.) and did it at a very high level. So I did a consumer study and asked all of my students who also were enrolled in his class, why he was such a good teacher. Every single one of them responded with the same answer,

Enthusiasm!

That’s it right there, his great pedagogy wasn’t credited to some novel educational strategy, cutting edge smart board usage, creative curriculum, or innovative classroom management skills (not that he didn’t have any of that), but instead to his love of math, his job, and most importantly his students.

We’ve all had this enthusiasm. You had it before you ever set foot in a classroom. It’s that, “I’m going to change the world” feeling you had the first time you stayed up until 2:30 making sure the transitions in that lesson on ___________ were just right. It was how you felt about teaching right after you experienced that first “ah-ha” moment with your students.

But walk on to most school campuses across America and you don’t find that. More often than not, you find teachers who are just collecting a pay check; and it’s not that these people can’t be great teachers, or that we never were, they have just lost that spark. And that is the secret to ‘fixing’ American schools. Reignite that spark in teachers and kindle a fire in students.

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