Improvisation: the teacher’s best friend

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April 20, 2011 by k. liz

“Teacher, only one of us has our book.”

“Teacher, we already did this lesson with another teacher.” 

“Teacher, there are only two students today.” 

I’m quickly learning that being able to think on my feet is probably one of my best assets as a teacher. Sometimes, I feel that those moments turn into my favorite activities or games. My recent favorite improvisation that has actually turned into a habit now has nothing to do with teaching, but with turning on that annoying projector on the ceiling when my remote has gone AWOL. Well, I happen to carry about 8 Expo markers in my bag because I’m a big fan of color-coding on the board, and because they are all running out of ink. Well, just for your information – 4 connected cap-to-end reach the normal sized rooms perfectly, and 8 with a steady hand can reach the first floor tall classrooms.

Okay, so that is kinda irrelevant to teaching. However, today I went to class and only one student had their book – for a reading lesson. Great. Well, they didn’t have their books, but most of them had their macbooks, so I told them to open them up and google information on tomatoes, which is what the reading was supposed to be about. Most of them ended up on the same page, which was surprisingly simple and short. So, I had them write three facts about tomatoes, and while they did that I read the same page and put some questions on the board. Hence, I still had them read although they were unprepared for class. Now, I realize that not everyone has macbooks to work with when the students don’t bring their books, but thankfully that was what I had to work with today. I will say though, that I was also contemplating having the students use the two books (mine included) that were in the room and reading aloud while the other students listened for the important information. Another tactic I’ve used with this same problem is opening Keynote, or word and actually typing the story onto the screen for the students to read. Now, this works well for me, because my typing is fairly fast, and I actually enjoyed having the students read this way, because they could not get discouraged by how long the paragraph was, and thought it was interesting to try to keep up with my typing!

How about you? What practices or habits have you developed from some unpredicted classes? I’d love to hear them!

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