Comparisons to Robert Kiyosaki’s longest-running best-selling book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” can’t help but spring to mind when one reads author Russ Johnson’s “Quick Student Engagement Ideas for Busy Teachers: Creative Ideas From 1,000 Remarkable Faculty & Students” tome, a work in which the professor calls himself both a rich and poor teacher.
This poverty or wealth, however, transcends beyond the amounts directly deposited into bank accounts, and cuts right to the heart of the art of successful teaching and overall leadership.
So whether you’re a “poor teacher” in the sense of receiving paltry pay in light of the mind-molding work you do – or recognize that you’re indeed a “rich teacher” based on those same life-changing factors – even if you’re not a tenured-track six-figure collegiate – Johnson’s advice on how to engage your audience and effectively, non-boringly pass on lessons can help those speaking to multitudes of millions, or a mom of one:
#1 – Move something
Whether it’s lunging around the room like a Vaudevillian entertainer, moving desks in a therapy-like circle, or getting your audience to “vote with their feet” by encouraging all the “yays” to stand on one side of the room while the “nays” stand on the other – get something moving besides your long-winded mouth inside the classroom.
#2 – Show me what you got, Shorty
The astute rap aficionados among you will know that I stole that line from Jay Z. It’s the same kind of line that might just prompt a hip hop head to look up from the text messages they are sneakily sending during your lecture and directly at you, as the weird type of words they usually speak among peers spring from your middle-aged lips.
Johnson recalls using the word “sick” in front of his students – not meaning ill, as some might assume it to be defined in the way that our Microsoft Word dictionaries still define it – but in the “cool, sweet, awesome” way that younger people use the adjective.
Simply using a new and contemporary phraseology was enough to capture their attention. If you don’t “show them what you got” via words, definitely do it with object lessons. This YouTube generation is used to looking at things – with shorter attention spans – so keep them interested by using props and videos (even safe pyrotechnics, if you must) to get your point across.
#3 – Shut up and drive…
…your students away from their Temple Run 2 apps. Stop droning on. Let them speak. Turn your classroom into one gigantic Q & A session, or apply Shakespeare soliloquy lessons by contrasting and comparing them to Nicki Minaj’s latest lyrics in order to make them stick.
Overall, Johnson’s book teaches us to turn conventional lecture wisdom on its head and turn poor teaching skills into rich ones that make people remember what you taught them, even decades later – and thank you that you did it in a fun way.