Most people that know me know that I am an extremely passionate Bon Jovi fan. I have seen the band live 24 times in three countries. I love when there are moments where I can use a quote from Jon Bon Jovi to help get my thoughts across and this one is perfect for this blog post.
This quote would have gone quite nicely in my last blog post on passion, but I also believe that it fits perfectly with the second piece of the PIRATE philosophy puzzle 'Immersion'.
In this section of his book, Dave Burgess talks about fully diving in to whatever it is you are doing, 'to completely give yourself up to the moment and fully "be" with your students.' There are so many times when we could just put on a video and let it run for half a period without taking the time to get into it yourself, stop at various times and ask questions, make sure the students are actually paying attention instead of falling asleep on the desk. Even though you are still showing a video, you are immersing yourself in the content of the video as well to show your students that the reason for watching it isn't just that you don't really feel like doing much else that lesson.
As Dave says, 'students can feel it when you are truly present' and I think we can all agree with this. I had a Biology student comment at parent-teacher night recently that I get 'so into it' in class and she said that she really enjoys that. She said that if I didn't show as much enthusiasm as I did, she probably wouldn't be so interested in the content. I'm not adding this to toot my own horn, but I do try to make sure that I throw myself all in when I can.
This year has been a roller coaster ride for me. I have had two grandparents pass away and I got married, so my mind has been all over the place for most of the year. I will admit, being able to just throw myself into something crazy in the classroom has helped me get through some pretty tough days. Returning to school after missing time off for one thing or another also shows that you are doing the right thing in the classroom when your students email you to say they're missing having you in class or that, even though they have another science teacher covering the content with them - it's just not the same!
My Stage 6 classes are the ones that I find I immerse myself in more as I believe that my input is going to be what helps them get through two very full on years and keep them engaged and motivated in my classroom. I also enjoy being crazy with my Year 7 class as they are still at that cute, we don't think you're weird stage! I will admit that I have struggled this year to truly immerse myself with my Year 9 class - they're at that 'too cool for school' age and linking back to the previous post, the content isn't really my 'passion'... but I have tried and looking back over the last 3 and half terms I have thought of how I will do things differently next year!
Dave states that he is a firm believer in structure and having plans for what you wish to address in the classroom, but he also says that it's ok to 'let it go' and run with the 'teachable moment'. If you stick to the plan too often and don't let your students explore when they are truly engaged in a particular area of the curriculum you are going to miss that opportunity to delve into something valuable. Even if this means losing some 'precious' time preparing for standardised tests, etc we need to make these sacrifices to do our job - to teach our kids! Sometimes we need to just put the 'formalised' stuff aside and just 'be' with our students.
My mission for myself (and for anyone reading this post!) is to try to think of how I (and you) can completely immerse myself into at least one lesson in the next week. For us Aussies, we are getting to that time of the year where we are being pushed by the demands of reports and faced with students who are already in holiday mode - but just think, by totally immersing yourself into one lesson you could see a completely different side of your students and engage them in a way that you might not have thought possible during Term 4! Hopefully this will give you some ideas of how you can immerse yourself into more areas of your teaching in 2015!!
A high school science and Biology teacher in Sydney, Australia. #aussieED co-founder. Interested in the integration of ICT into the Science curriculum.