Last week my own children returned to school after the long Christmas break. The start was delayed by a day due to the flooding and storm damage affecting Queensland in the recent weeks. For Sarah and Michael the school year started on Thursday. We joked about how a short week would ease them back into school after such a long break! But reality would bite in week two, as it was a WHOLE five days.
Sarah is starting Year 11 and Michael is starting Year 9. They are good kids. They do well at school and are never in any trouble. The start to this year should be really interesting as they both get to start new subjects and have had the opportunity to make choices.
After two days back at school I asked both of them how the start of the year had been. Both said they were bored. Both relayed stories of disinterested teachers who lacked energy and enthusiasm for their subjects. Passion for teaching was not evident.
I can’t help but worry about the lost opportunity. The start of the year is a great time to engage and connect with a new class. To demonstrate enthusiasm and excitement for the year ahead. To start to build positive relationships with a new batch of students who are eager and ready for something new. Passion, energy and a positive attitude are contagious.
Instead both students seemed to get a distinct lack of energy and enthusiasm from their teachers. Now maybe they are just typical teenagers and a ho-hum response is standard, but maybe we as teachers are missing a great opportunity to engage and interest our students.
An ounce of prevention is better than a ton of repairing. What if the first lesson in each new subject set the seen for an interesting year ahead, where the students could see how what they would learn was connected to the real world and the teacher genuinely displayed passion and enthusiasm for teaching? I know I’d be far more excited for the second lesson.
My concern for the lost opportunity is exacerbated by modern teenagers. A colleague recently commented that today’s teenagers have great ‘crap detectors’! They are so inundated by information through media, social media and google that they are quick to judge and move on.
If my concerns are correct then many students will have been less than impressed by their new teachers lack of passion and enthusiasm and will have switched off! If that is the case it will be a difficult challenge ahead for those teachers. Repairing damage is much more difficult than engaging the students in the first place.
If I was the teacher I’d make sure my passion and enthusiasm were turbo-charged for the next lessons with each of my classes.