User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Creating the Classroom Conditions for the Best Day Ever

with 7 comments

Lately, I have become a little obsessed with idea of the best day ever. It is undeniable obvious when you see someone have or experience for yourself a peak experience: succeeding with a difficult, seemingly impossible task; getting a unexpected, amazing gift; finishing or winning a competitive event (depending on your goal); being given accolades for a personal accomplishment.  I personally perceive it as a coming together or congruence of the mind, heart, body, and spirit where all of them are present in the moment and fulfilled. It translates into experiencing a flow state.

So this has led to me thinking how educators can create the conditions for learners to have and exclaim, “This is the best day ever!” Whoever said or made up the rules that school should be serious, boring, or painful? The institutions and places where learning takes place should be joyful and exciting places.

Strategies to help facilitate learners having the best day ever:

  • Build on learner interests and passions
  • Involve learners in the what and how of instruction
  • Use whole body and hands-on learning
  • Allow learners to work with others if they choose
  • Embed seemingly unreachable challenges
  • Encourage and acknowledge a broad range of emotions
  • Celebrate both effort and success
  • Respect the process – creating the best day ever takes time
  • Respect the process – let go of the need to create the best day ever

We cannot predict nor force learners to have the best day ever but we can set up the conditions to increase its possibility.

bestdayever

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

September 24, 2015 at 1:22 am

7 Responses

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  1. I am very interested in creating a “best day ever” experience for my students. I can see how giving the students more control over their learning experience would generate positive feelings toward learning. I really like the all encompassing nature of the format. It seems a little unstructured, however, so I am curious if you have tried this in a variety of grade levels or subject matters? Also, I wonder how gradually you would introduce the different aspects of the format?

    Linda Brock

    September 29, 2015 at 10:34 pm

  2. Hi Jackie,
    When I saw the title of your post, it really grabbed my attention. I love the concept and the ideas you have listed for creating the best day every. As educators at the elementary level we have been caught up in testing and standards and school does not seem to be fun anymore. I remember many “best day ever” when I was in school. I would love for our current school children to be able to say the same thing when they think back to school. I want to try and follow the process that you have posted. The idea of taking a step back and letting children work with others and getting them involved in the what and how of instruction should definitely spark more of an interest in their learning. Students should also be able to build upon their learning by using topics that interests them. I know this may sound difficult at the elementary level but I am going to make an effort in trying this process out in my own classroom. If all fails, I will keep trying.

    James Harenberg

    September 29, 2015 at 10:43 pm

  3. Hi Jackie,
    I agree that there is nothing like seeing your students excited about what they are learning. So often, teachers get overwhelmed by what has to be taught, how it has to be taught, and the countless other things that need to be done in a day. There is so little time for “fun” at school anymore. I feel fortunate because as a GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) teacher, my curriculum is not assigned to me. I am able to build on my student’s interests and teach in a way that motivates them. They are often able to choose to work alone or with a partner(s) and are given choices as to how they will demonstrate their learning. The idea of creating “the best day ever” for our students sounds like a great challenge. In fact, it sounds like a great topic for our next blog. Thanks for sharing!

    Angie

    Angie Slater

    September 29, 2015 at 10:47 pm

  4. Hi Jackie,
    I have to tell you that after experiencing one of the worst days in my classroom today I didn’t think there would ever be any good days to come but reading your “Creating Classroom Conditions for the Best Day Ever” has made me excited to go to school tomorrow. I teach in a self-contained program with students who are severe learning disabled and getting them excited about learning is always a challenge. But I realized that if I develop my lessons with my students interests more in mind (still teaching the curriculum of course) then I think they would have more fun. I always try to have hands-on materials and am allowing the students to pair up in small groups (some I choose and some they choose) and have recently been rewarded with the higher functioning students choosing/wanting to help their low functioning peers. I will borrow your poster, if you don’t mind, and put it in my classroom so as to remind me that every day can truly be the best day. I know we all have some bad days but on reflection most are good ones. Now maybe my students and I can have the best ones!!!! Thanks for you inspiration.
    Cheryl Ewalt
    RO Gibson MS
    Las Vegas, NV

    Cheryl Ewalt

    October 2, 2015 at 1:35 am

    • Happy to give you hope and please do hang the poster! We do all have bad days but teachers, too, should have the best day ever with their students!

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      October 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

  5. Hi Jackie,
    It’s funny that you are talking about the “Best Day Ever” because I am always talking to my students about this very idea. I spend a little time each day promoting to them to make the most of every opportunity and to set goals to become everything that they want to be. I am always trying to make the school experience a positive one for them. I truly believe that the more the students are enjoying themselves the more they will learn. The structure that you have devised seems like a very student centered way to get them structuring their own learning. I am thinking about introducing some of the ideas you suggested in my classes. Thank you for your ideas.

    Byron Brock

    October 2, 2015 at 2:54 am

  6. Thank you very much for your ideas and share it with many teachers. I am a Spanish teachers in Galveston. I always try to create a game- friendly atmosphere in my classroom. I plan activities based on real life situations, and my students love them. We call our approach: Real Spanish, Real Points” the more they use the Spanish language for real communication the more participation they get. We have set the classroom into a restaurant where some students play the role of customers, cooks, waiters etc. And more settings such as a hotel, airport. The students work in groups and act out the dialogues. The students’ feedback is amazing, they say the have learned more Spanish this year than previous years. I don’t focus in the grammar, but in real communication.

    Pedro Quintero

    July 15, 2016 at 5:01 pm


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