I have never lived in Paris nor do I really have any desire to go there. It seems really nice, but I'm more of a Caribbean vacation kinda gal. I know about the Eiffel Tower and that bridge with all the locks on it, but until reading this article: "Five Lessons from Living in Paris" by A. Pawlowski, I never quite knew how cool being a Parisian was. Let me tell you, they are cool. Pawlowski's article sums up the 5 lessons learned by Jennifer L. Scott after living in Paris for a while. While reading about Scott's experience, I couldn't help think about how her lessons apply to teaching.
5 Lessons from Living in Paris - for Teachers!
1: "Live a passionate Life" - When we're passionate about Shakespeare, Roosevelt, Telophase or Parabolas, our kids will be, too. You know that person who can tell a story about going to the grocery store to get a Redbox movie so passionately that you can't help but listen? There is nothing in his mind screaming, "this story is not worth telling!" so the story, as mundane as it may be, comes off worthwhile and super interesting.
2: "Cultivate an air of mystery" - This comes back to Maxwell's Demon's principle 4 of his Five Principles of the Evil Teaching Guru. As much as it sometimes seems as if kids just want the answer, it's so important for them to find, with some help, answers to their questions on their own. They'll be more interested and invested in what they are doing.
3: "Look presentable always" - I immediately thought of three people when I read this: my brother, 2012 Massachusetts teacher of the year, and my husband. All three are awesome and all three wear ties everyday. At my current job, I wear a jacket every day. I never used to do this because I thought it was weird, but now I know that dressing up says to the kids, "Hey, you're worth looking my best!"
"Hold onto the small victories"
4: "Don't forget the simple pleasures" - This one is all for us. I will never forget a lesson I learned during my first year teaching in Boston. This lesson came from Mike Pfaff, then a Biology Teacher and now a Hollywood actor. Yes, he made that jump! After a particularly rough day, Mike told me to "Hold on to the small victories". Some days when it's easy to fixate on the kid who refuses to pick up a pencil, we have to remember the kid who thanked us for a good class or got his first homework 100% of the week.
5: "Make Life a formal affair" - A former principal told me a story about a kid who had been sent to his office. When asked why he didn't want to go to class, the kid explained that he was uncomfortable because there was free-seating. It seemed this student had no friends to sit next to so got extremely anxious going to class. For this kid, free-seating was an issue. As mundane as it seems, this kid found comfort in his other classes knowing that when he went there he wouldn't have to choose a seat. OK, I am the hugest offender here and my students sit where they want. But I do start the class with a warmup every day, and if my warmup basket is ever out of place, I hear about it! As I should. Kids love routine. They'll never admit it, but they do. When the daily routine is set, kids are more willing to take risks in the class material (lesson #2).