‘It's a Kind of Magic' Secrets of adding a touch of magic to lessons:
Take the kids seriously, they expect you to want to help them in their life in and out of school.
Make a few bad jokes.
Be consistent and have an even temper whatever is happening in your personal life
BUT most important of all
Let the pupils see you expect them to succeed and will go the extra 10,000 miles to get them that success.
My name is Kyle. I am a reception teacher and love my job.
A few years ago, teaching in Australia, I was taking a reception class and we had been burgled. The crooks had got onto our roof and come through our skylight. They took a few things; it wasn't the greatest day to walk into class.
We had been learning about traditional tales and were about to start our new story of Jack and the Beanstalk. I quickly drafted up a letter from "the giant" saying that he was sorry for stepping on our classroom roof and had said he was looking for Jack.
In a nutshell, I believe the magic needed in a lesson is harnessing a child's imagination. Being adaptable and open to change can turn an upsetting event into something the kids wanted to write about (we wrote letters back to the giant).
Anyway that's all!
The secret ingredients that I use in secondary schools are:
Music/sound effects - it sets the tone as the pupils come in. Make it have a connection to what they'll be learning about. For example, for a lesson on First World War poets, play the songs from the period or the sounds of war. For a lesson on creative writing, play a magical film score to get their imaginations going (avoid Harry Potter or anything too famous). To help pupils settle quickly, have a starter question on the board to do with the music you've used. For example, 'write down what this piece of music makes you think of' or 'what kind of places might you hear these voices?' I've also used chill out music for the section of the lesson that you want them to do some extended writing as it's a great settler and focus. I've used sound effects such as the Countdown theme tune for timing pupils or game show buzzers to pick pupils at random to answer questions. There are programmes you can use to input these for your lessons.
Costume/Teacher in Role - Pupils love this and not enough teachers do it for fear of looking stupid but it really does reap dividends. It shows a teacher's personality and sense of fun. I've dressed up as a scientist, the Grim Reaper, a suffragette. It captures pupils’ imagination and is great for pupils at all abilities.
Using objects - in History you can bring in items one might have found in different times, English teachers can use them as a stimulus for creative writing or to think about the themes of a novel. It's great for generating questions about the objects' purpose, what it means to characters. You can ask the pupils to be detectives to work out why you might have brought them in and work out the connection between many objects.
Competitions- in groups, individuals, class against the teacher (they love this); competitions that involve pupils having to talk to each other to gain information; carousels and market place competitions and games get them moving around with purpose and energy. Ask senior management to agree to give out 'jump the lunch queue' or free break time snack as a prize. Or if your school are okay with sweets - give out chocolate - it's always a great incentive!