Routine is the best friend of teachers but is often a nightmare for students…

Judging from the research and my observations in classrooms, most of us prefer daily routines to assure we can fulfill expectations. At times, we might like to break away, but we hesitate for fear of falling behind or misfiring our creative effort… Sometimes students arrive in our classrooms buzzing about the crazy thing that just happened in a previous class. We smile, perhaps with a touch of envy, and proceed with our routines.

But novelty activates the brain, brain researchers claim. The invigoration of holding hands, for instance, dissipates after a few minutes, just as the scent of perfume quickly recedes. Without novelty in the classroom, we invite boredom.

Extending an invitation to learn requires commitment and risk. If we are intrigued but feel resistant, we should engage a colleague to help us design one. Once ready, we should agree to observe each other for support and feedback. If it fails, we will at least have a friend in the house. Our students, as well, might prove supportive if we explain what we attempted and why. They’ll probably welcome another try, as novelty is more appealing than routine.

For more about the key role of invitations in teaching see Chapter 4 in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting students to Learn from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918

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