Today I’m going to share something I am very passionate about and something that gets me fired up. This is an issue that comes up so many times when I talk to teachers all over the country. I’m talking about fun in the classroom!
I recently saw a post on Facebook where someone was talking about how Common Core has ruined Kindergarten and then a friend shared a story with me and a first grade teacher in her school said this:
“…I hope your kids transition from play to work well…”
(Note…I’m not engaging in a debate about Common Core….those are the standards and it’s my job to teach them….read on to see my thoughts…)
Well, now I’m mad.
Look, here’s the deal. The standards are the standards. The mandates are the mandates. Curriculum is what it is. Unfortunately as teachers, we’re not in the position to change these or do away with things we know aren’t right or developmentally appropriate. We don’t have to like it. We don’t have to agree with it. BUT we do have to our job. And we have to do it well. Despite these issues.
So what do we do? What can we do?
What we can do is use our voice and continue to let those in charge know our professional and expert opinions. We can make sure that those in charge know that there are better and more effective and appropriate ways to teach our students. We need to be the voice for our students and our profession.
And more importantly, we can make learning fun.
It is our job to take the standards and mandates and curriculum we have and make it accessible to all of our students. THAT IS OUR JOB. It’s not my job to change those standards or mandates (see above!) but it is my job to do everything I can to see that my students learn and grow and meet whatever standards and benchmarks are put before them. And the best way to help my students master those benchmarks and standards is to bring back fun in the classroom!
Look, I get it. It’s frustrating and sometimes, downright infuriating. But our number one priority is our students. Every day. It is my job to give them the best possible education possible every single day. Despite the mandates and curriculum and standards. I am going to find new, out of the box, hands on, engaging, and FUN ways to teach my students. And if they’re still not getting it, guess what? I’m going to look for more fun ways to teach it until each child has reached their fullest potential.
And guess what? While we’re busy reaching our fullest potential and mastering our standards and meeting benchmarks, we’re going to have a BLAST.
That’s right folks. We’re going to have the F word. FUN. Yeah. I’ll say it again. THE F WORD! FUN!
See, here’s the thing…we seem to think that learning and fun can’t happen together. We seem to think that if we’re having fun in our classrooms, then we’re not learning. And vice versa. If we’re learning it can’t be fun.
STOP IT! JUST STOP THAT INSANITY!
You can have fun and learn at the same time. In fact, the more fun you have the more you learn. Don’t believe me? When schools in a district tripled recess, guess what happened to achievement? It tripled. More fun=more learning.
People, we have a disco ball in our classroom. With party lights going all day long. Our classroom is a non stop party from the time we arrive until the time we go home. Seriously, we arrive to a dance party. Music bumping, kids singing and dancing and bouncing on a trampoline. We end our day with a dance party. And in between? We sing and dance and play and LAUGH AND LAUGH AND LAUGH. We’re silly. And goofy. We get wild and crazy. And we learn. We learn a lot.
We have an outright blast every single day. And guess what? My students learn. They meet every benchmark and standard. My students master every skill. They learn to read at and above grade level. We learn to write and draw and become scientists. They can count beyond 100 and add and subtract to 10. And they leave ready for the challenge of first grade.
And never once did we stop having fun in the classroom!
It’s time we stop being afraid to have fun. And it’s time we stop hiding behind standards and mandates and curriculum. It’s time we bring the fun back into our classrooms and give our students every opportunity to love school and reach their fullest potential.
So, here’s my advice:
Open your door.
(Open your door so people see you having fun and learning so we can start changing minds!)
People, it’s our job and our responsibility.