Classy: Bringing silly and embracing unsatisfactory

In the eyes of the over-trained, I was an unsatisfactory teacher for a good long time today.
My instructions to my junior English classes sounded something like this, “I’m going to give you five minutes. Talk to your team members about the high and low points of your break. Also, talk about what you’d like to get out of the first half of 2011.”
That was it.
At the end of five minutes, no one was held responsible for doing something with the information they just gained. No one reported out.
It gets better.
The next instruction, “You have two minutes to come up with a team cheer.”
Two minutes later, the class watched as each of the 8 teams of four performed their cheers.
A personal favorite, “My name is Jeff and I invite you to experience the bountiful garden that is Team 7.”
It was a good 10 minutes of class.
I left out the opening. I left out the new material. I left out the guided and independent practice. No objective was on the board. All told, I was fairly unsatisfactory.
I don’t care.
My students got new seats today. Many of them are sitting with kids with whom they might not otherwise socialize. For 10 minutes, they took time to get to know one another, to collaborate with their new team to create something without academic penalty and to present as a group something that built a collective identity.
And, to practice being silly.
For the rest of the class, focused research on a writing project with the potential to create positive change in their communities.
For 10 minutes, though, pure, unsatisfactory silliness.

One thought on “Classy: Bringing silly and embracing unsatisfactory

  1. For me, this is exactly how we bring joy into school. I can imagine the rest of class was relaxed and free of the sterility seen by many as good teaching. The sum of these moments is extremely valuable in the entire school experience. We can't quantify this stuff. Thanks for sharing this as I may invoke this example during my EduCon session on “Sharing the Joy”.

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