Teach Every Class As If It Were the Last
The best advice I was ever given in my counselor education was to approach each counseling session with every client as if it were the last one. The rationale is that you never know if the client might decide not to show up again.
I have taken this advice into my teaching. My teaching experiences include elementary gifted and PE, and teacher education courses. Some classes last an hour, some a full day (gifted kids and weekend intensives for pre- and in-service teachers). I bring this philosophy into the classroom in all my teaching – no matter the age or content. The learners are giving me their time, literally pieces of their lives. It becomes my responsibility to provide them with experiences worthy of their time. In most of my teaching situations, I would see them again for the next class – but one never knows. I have had a handful of students who suddenly went missing-in-action due to family conflicts, emergencies, etc.
In terms of what this means in my teaching practices, I strive to bring magic and joy into my classroom. I want students to shiver with positive anticipation and energy when they enter class that day – not knowing exactly what to expect, but knowing it will be something exciting.
I work towards having my students experience one or more of the following:
- An “Aha” – a new insight about the content, self, or the world-at-large.
- A feeling of being an important part of and connected to the world.
- A rise in self-esteem (Note: Seeing a student’s eyes light up/body posture change – observing the growth in self-worth is the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.)
- A new question to explore.
- A new topic of personal interest.
- A new friend to learn more about.
- A flow experience.
I work towards and have a desire for every student to leave each class qualitatively different than when he or she came to class that day. This is a lofty goal but really adds to the creativity, engagement, and joy I attempt to infuse into each class session.