Space aliens need parking too!

“How much do you charge to park in your back yard?”
Copyright ©2014 Kevin Spear

I have a hard enough time finding parking in a strange city. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to find a decent parking spot on the next planet. Continue reading “Space aliens need parking too!”

Why atmosphere is important in the classroom

I read this blog post from the Washington Post this morning entitled Smart design + school = health. The final quote stood out to me:

“We really focused on what kids need. What I see in that space are kids gravitating to that atmosphere because they know it’s for them, about them. Everything is tailored to their needs.”-Dina Sorensen, project designer, VMDO Architects

Too often, when an architect or designer plans classrooms, they design for best use of space at the best price. What if we designed classrooms so they didn’t feel like an institution? What if we considered the return on investment if the classroom actually helped learning?

When it comes to church classrooms, this is especially important. No child wants to come to a place where it looks like a plain, boring institution. We like restaurants that have some atmosphere and kids like a place just for them that has a little atmosphere too.

I see churches do this all the time with Vacation Bible school. They go all out to make a week special for the children. It is especially good for a church to consider how to make their place welcoming to kids throughout the year.

We gravitate towards restaurants with a nice atmosphere. Churches need to consider how much atmosphere their children’s area has.

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The worst advice I’ve ever heard about teaching in church

Cartoon of a boy and a teacher. The student says, "You're goofy, Mr. Schmeltzer! I like that in a teacher."Have you ever found it hard to get the attention of a room full of kids? It can be a loud place. If you have the class on a Sunday morning, it can also be a quiet place that would make a crypt sound like an ideal place for a party.

Over the years, I’ve searched for all kinds of advice on how to teach effectively. There is one piece of advice I found to be the worst of them all.

Act cool, show little emotion and take yourself seriously. Don’t be a clown! This is church, after all!

This just doesn’t work for me. And I would dare say it won’t work for anyone who is teaching elementary age kids.

I understand those who want to emphasize a church or school is a place that needs to be treated with respect. However, it also needs to be a fun place. Respect doesn’t mean everyone must be bored to death.

An effective teacher or speaker knows there is a little entertainment involved. Speaking in a monotone voice with no emotion will either send a classroom into a frenzy or cause all children without ADHD to sit there and daydream. Whether you have external evidence you’ve lost them or they are acting internally by daydreaming, you’ve still lost them.

So my advice to you is it’s okay to be a little goofy when you’re teaching.

  • Have a little fun with it. If you’re having fun, they’re having fun too.
  • Vary your speaking voice. Have some exciting, loud times, but also some quiet, somber times.
  • Don’t be afraid to crack a few jokes. Even bad ones can keep attention.
  • Don’t just lecture. Get the kids involved too. Have them read for you. Have them participate in a game. Make it a fun experience.

What are some ways you’ve made your classroom or Sunday school class a fun place to learn?

Complementing a child goes a long way

Cartoon of a teacher saying to a student, "This is a great story. You should copyright it!"

Cartoon of a happy teacher and student. The teacher says, “This is a great story. You should copyright it.”

It breaks my heart when I hear about an author who almost didn’t take up his craft because an English teacher once told her that she was a terrible writer. But it is inspiring to hear of those who heard that discouragement, yet overcame it and are authors today.

It is a shame when discouragement comes out of our mouths. I am as guilty as anyone else of spewing criticism to others. Unfortunately, it is too easy to do that in this world.

But a complement goes a long way. My fourth grade teacher encouraged me to consider drawing when complemented my part in a poster. I didn’t think of myself as an artist until that moment.

Be sure to give a sincere complement to a child when you have a chance. You never know how it will change his life.

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Keep failing and keep enduring!

Cartoon of a jogging couple
Run the race with perseverance |

There was an article in my morning newspaper about an Anderson University professor who gets to participate in Google X lab.

AU professor invited to secret Google X lab » Local News » The Herald Bulletin.

Professor Scott Kennedy talked about the point of research is to fail sometimes. Not only is that the point of research, but it’s also the point of getting anywhere in life. Professor Kennedy says,

I am always telling my students that the point of research is to fail sometimes, to mess up and learn from what happened, what didn’t happen and what didn’t work. You can’t be afraid to try something.

This goes perfectly with the lesson I will be teaching the kids in large group this morning. It’s about endurance: sticking with what you started even when things get tough. Here is the verse for the month:

Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9

Whether it’s science, business, parenting or doing good, we will eventually succeed if we do these things:

  • Keep our eye on the goal
  • Work on them daily
  • Change our tactics or steps when they aren’t working so we can keep moving towards the goal

Go ahead and fail today. If we keep at it and work towards the goal, we will reap that reward in the end.

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