A few years ago at a Literacy First workshop, the presenter posed the following question: “If your school principal walked into your classroom and randomly asked a student, ‘Why are you doing what you’re doing?’ Would the student have an answer?” That question really stuck with me.
It’s in the Objectives
Part of the ‘why’ is in the lesson objectives. I cannot stress enough the importance of posting at least a summary of lesson objectives on the board. Not only will it remind you to review the objectives with your class, it will also help you stay focused during your lesson.
Real Life Connections
Reviewing lesson objectives prior to teaching is also a great time to point out real life connections. We are learning to add coins up to one dollar so that when we go to the store to buy a candy we know what coins to give the cashier. It’s easy to forget to relate those real life connections. However, we all know students learn better when there is a meaningful connection to their lives.
Two for One
Every morning I write my daily schedule on the board. With each subject, I write a short summary of each lesson objective. As adults, we like to know what’s coming and when. Kids are no different. There is a sense of security in knowing what to expect. As a side bonus, if you ever forget to do something the students will remind you.
Ask yourself from time to time what a student might say if he/she were asked the question, “Why are you doing what you’re doing?” Occasionally ask students the question yourself. Will a relevant answer be forthcoming?