I was recently speaking to a middle school student (for anonymity's sake, I will not share their name or location!) and heard something very interesting. It was not surprising, especially given everything I continue to learn about what it takes for students to be involved in their learning, but it was very interesting!
This student is in 8th grade. He is a good student who works hard, and receives A/B grades, but is not a strong reader or mathematician.
We were talking about how school was going so far this year, and if they were enjoying their classes. He basically said that most of his classes are boring, and the only one he really likes is math. I was somewhat surprised about this, because one of the classes is with a young, new teacher who I thought they enjoyed. When I asked what makes his math class such a good one, he said
"My teacher is really entertaining! He is funny and gets into it."
I asked if he would consider himself a kid who likes math.
"No, not really."
I asked if he was enjoying it so far.
"Yeah, I like that class" (invigorating convo, I know!)
When I started to think about the other teachers that I knew something about, I realized that although many of them are kind, most of them are very serious about the work, and somewhat strict. And, they probably don't get very excited, or try very hard to make it fun.
Now, I am not trying to tell anyone to start "performing" for their students or having a party every day.
However, I am telling you that students need to want to come to your class. Students need to be interested, not bored. They need to be happy, not worried. They need to be intrigued and involved.
They need to see that you love what you are teaching, and that there may actually be a reason to learn it!
Just something to think about!
Now, go get that clown costume ready ;)