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Hello, Teachers! Welcome to the “doldrums” of the school year.  Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are over, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day has passed, and the second semester of no breaks/no days off looms ahead.  You notice that the students are bored, and so are you, but what to do about it?  I have a suggestion. 

Many teachers get a little tired of teaching the same material, and if you are not interested in your subject, how can you expect the students to be excited about it?  One of your goals as a teacher must be to pique student interest and help students become more receptive to learning.  Just by changing one small thing, you can revamp your lessons and make students more interested in the lesson.  It’s all your “hook”, “anticipatory set”, or your “introduction” to the unit or lesson.  Permit me to give an example.

For years, I taught two lower-level English classes per day.  Many of the students had a low reading ability, and many had issues at home, challenges in learning, and even addiction issues.  These students were in a special program at my school because they had very limited success in school. Most had a limited vocabulary base, which was at least partially from a lack of success in reading, thus making them even more reluctant readers. The curriculum required students to read a short story called “The Monkey’s Paw”, by W.W. Jacobs.  The story was first published in 1902, and the words used in the story are not the same as our English language today. Students always had a difficult time negotiating some of the vocabulary words, but the eerie premise of the story – that a person could receive three wishes on the monkey’s paw – was tantalizing. Who doesn’t love magic and being scared?  I handed out a notecard to each student and had them write their own definition of magic.  This prompted a great discussion of whether they thought magic could be real.  Then, I had students write their own definition of a superstition, and one or two examples.  This activity provoked another great discussion, and I was able to throw in some fun facts because I took a book out of the library that was all about the origins of superstitions.  I read the little excerpt in the book about why it is bad luck to cross the path of a black cat, and why it is bad luck to open an umbrella in the house.  The book talked about pink for girls and blue for boys, and men’s and women’s clothing buttoning on opposite sides; it explained the expression of “knock on wood,” and spilling salt and throwing some over your left shoulder.  The students were so excited by the introduction (with all learners engaged) that they could not wait to read the story.  And although some of the words still bogged them down, they looked at the story as something they wanted to read, not as a required assignment.  My fun and lively introduction changed their attitude toward learning.

I loved teaching for 37 years, and I still miss having my own classroom.  The time goes so fast, and we, as teachers, want our students to do so well.  I hope my positive example can help you to think of some new ways to introduce your lessons and jazz up your personal teaching power and the students’ learning power. 

Dede Rittman

Dede Rittman taught for 37 years, coached golf for 33 years, and directed musicals and talent shows for 20 years.  Although retired, Dede keeps up with Education through her books. Please invite Dede to your elementary school or college classroom. She has assorted programs related to both her books for all ages.  Dede’s new book on Professional Development, co-authored by Daniel Blanchard and Dan Flores, has enjoyed a number 1 run on Amazon.  

Dede Rittman 

Teacher, Author, Speaker 

President, Rittman Publishing, LLC

Student Teaching: The Inside Scoop from a Master Teacher 

Grady Gets Glasses  

Professional Development for Teachers Equals Success for Students

#1 Bestseller in “NEW RELEASES” in school management

#1 in Pedagogy, #1 in Education Administration. #1 in Education Leadership

Cell – 412-613-3805

Twitter @DedeRittman

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