Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ideas for Classroom Teaching and Learning

As educators, life-long learning is not an option but a need in order to stay ahead. One of the ways to do this is to learn from other profession because some of the jobs run parallel. How about we take a look at comedians and what we can learn from them.

goodhousekeeping.com modern-family billy

Some of my favourite comedians : ellen degeneres, cast of modern family and billy crystal


An important aspect of a comedy act is the idea process. How long it took for an idea to evolve into something that would be worthy of the act?

A comedian once quoted, "It is almost a fruit-like process to it for me. It gets ripe and then it starts rotting a bit for me."

If you think about it, comedians are not so much different from teachers. Occasionally, we have a really great idea that we are eager to integrate into our class, or share with others. But that idea eventually starts to sour, or the comedian put it, rot.

Thus an inevitable next step of the idea process would be to throw that fruit out and start new. But what if we try and find that same piece of fruit and evolve it into something new? Think of a fruit jam or cekodok pisang (I know pisang is not a fruit :P)

Imrprovising your idea

Do we seek to present new material each time we are standing in front of our students?

Few comedians affirmed that they throw away their comedy acts every year and seek to make each of their shows different from the last.

However, a comedian recommended that we cut out about 10 to 20 percent of the bottom of the act each year and blends the old stuff with the new material.

Such blending or simply innovation does makes sense in the world of education. Have you ever thought about your “act” in the classroom? Do you simply recycle the same show year after year?

While it may not be the best idea to throw away your act every year, it may make more sense for you to take the innovative approach and cut the bottom 10 to 20 percent of your act out each year and evolve the old material.

This is not to say the former approach is wrong. This practice challenges us to constantly create something new for an eager audience, our students.

Educators should also be accepting of the same challenge. We need to continually "clean out" our toolbox and bring in new ideas. I myself may not come up with the best ideas on my own, but I know what is worth innovating :) I remembered what John Steinbeck used to say, “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

Seeking more ideas to innovate

Educators are thirsty for more innovative teaching ideas. We hear the word innovation all of the time, but rarely see it in action. Every conference I attended in the past three years included some topic or keynote on innovation, but beyond the buzzwords and engaging presentations, there is a lack of rich examples. We need innovative method to try out for plenty of innovative teaching, but those examples of innovative teaching are not surfacing.

So where are they?

Innovative ideas are out there, but they are not being shared enough. I hope we will be able to seek ways to share and exchange ideas among colleagues especially among teachers in the country. There are wealth of ideas out there, and I seen lots of them.

Let us share and spread ideas!

My small attempt of sharing the ideas that I got from my own research and professional development training is of course far from anything epic. But I simply wanted to put those ideas out there with hope that it is useful to all educators. So far I received great responses from my network and the response was more than I anticipated.

George Bernard once said, “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas!”

In my professional development workshops that I conducted, I also have a slot where teachers contribute their ideas so that it can be shared with the participants attending the workshop. Later the one that fellow participants find useful will be included in future workshops. To spread the good ideas to even more educators, I even included them in my blog.

Picture2 Picture1

Two teacher participants shared a maths activity based on spinning wheels and maths operations

My hope to all my educators friends out there, lets rise to the occasion and share what you are doing. I do hope that some of you will share your thoughts and resources too. Do share your innovative ideas here. Erasmo de Rotterdam once said, “There is no joy in possession without sharing”. Show us examples and hopefully we can all learn from one another!

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