During our last class meeting, as were asked to break off into our groups to come up with topics for synthesis, my group came up with these particular subjects: different teaching strategies, warm-ups, getting students to actively participate, etc. As we were discussing these things, I couldn’t help but think back on my own experiences I had in school and the things I really enjoyed that made participating really easy and fun.
I had this one English teacher in high school that I really loved, her name was Mrs. Cantwell. She was a fan of making us role-play different characters and somewhat act out the scenes of famous pieces of literature. And while I was always quite reserved, I seemed to enjoy this very much, and always secretly hoped I’d be picked to play one of the characters for that day. She always just made the environment so comfortable and fun, that I never felt self-conscious or silly, which was rare for me. She really had a way of making everyone just feel free to be themselves which I appreciated more than anything. She also somehow had the ability to make boring classical literature, such as Beowulf, really come to life and actually seem interesting, which I’m sure was no easy feat, especially when dealing with high school students.
One thing I particularly enjoyed about her, however, where the warm ups she provided at the beginning of every class period. Every day she would write some wonderful, thought-provoking quote or interesting new fact on the board and then ask us our thoughts and opinions on it. I loved that she did this. It was honestly one of those little things I looked forward to every day. I kept my own personal journal of all the quotes and facts she would write down, because they were just so good, and I never wanted to lose them. Every one of them seemed to be meaningful or fascinating, and never failed to get me thinking or evoke some kind of emotion from me. Every day as soon as I entered her classroom, I was eager to see what she had written on the board, and excited to participate in the classroom discussion about it. This was the only class in high school that I ever showed up actually excited for.
It’s because of Mrs. Cantwell that I realize how important it is to have those warm ups at the beginning of every class that immediately grab your students attention and help them stay engaged from the very moment they step inside your classroom. I think it really helps with focusing kids’ attention and preparing them for the lecture or lesson plan that is to come next. I also think warm ups are just a great way to bring excitement into the classroom and offer the opportunity for students to speak out and discuss their own thoughts and opinions on whatever subject is being presented before diving into textbook material or lesson plans for the day. I really hope the warm ups I provide for my own students some day can be just as effective as Mrs. Cantwell’s were for me.