Today in my class something pretty cool happened.
I was teaching the fundamental principles of the US Constitution. They way I teach it, there are six. I put my students into six groups. Each group was to create a poster that did three things. It was to 1) define or explain the principle, 2) create some sort of drawing that represents this principle, and 3) write a poem/song/rap/etc that expresses the idea of this principle. (Multiple learning styles in da house.)
Then each group would teach their concept to the others and we would hang these up around our classroom poster of the Constitution.
They got a little hung up on the drawing part, but with some prodding, they were all able to get that pretty quick.
I was more surprised that they got stuck on the poem/song/rap part. But they were lost. Not according to plan. So I improvised. I said, “Look, Mr. Teachbad will write a rap about the Constitution right now. If I can do it, you can do it.”
So I went over to my computer and started a rap about the Constitution. Then I put this up on the projector:
Is our best solution
For how to roll the govamint
I’m lovin’ it
It’s the law that’s highest
In this country that’s fly-est
It let’s us know
How this govamint should go
Put yo hands in the air and say
Can’t no city or no state powerz
Pass no lawz ‘gainst this constitution of ourz
I could sit and read it for hourz
That took me maybe 8 minutes. They loved it. It built rapport….clearly. And they got the point. I want a rap that tells me what I want you to know about federalism…or whatever. But I had to pull it out of my ass and I didn’t know if it would work. I don’t think I could plan for that and the spontaneity and looseness of it was fun. I think it was valuable. That’s my professional assessment.
But Lord…oh dear Lordy Lord…I can’t even imagine what would have happened if an administrator had walked in.
Well, yes I can. One of two things would have happened:
1) I would have just stopped cold and started reading the standard and objective to the class and pretended we weren’t doing that; (in which case I would have been criticized for appearing to be disorganized and blah, blah, blah) or
2) I would have continued doing what I was doing (in which case I would have been written up: “Mr. Teachbad spent 8 minutes of valuable instructional time composing a ‘rap’ which blah, blah, blah”).
There is a disconnect. I think this will go down as one of my favorite moments as a teacher. Yet I am confident I would be roundly condemned for it by my administration. These are the moments which sustain me…yet they must be stopped.
Planning and Improv…what do you think?