Weapons of Mass Instruction

Weapons of Mass Instruction dan skognes motivation blogger speaker teacher trainer coach educatorIf you are a teacher, a preacher, a parent, or just need to be able to communicate with kids on occasion, this is for you. I am going to share with you a secret weapon for instructing kids that is (for some strange reason) overlooked by most adults….music!

When kids show up at school in the morning, the teachers are standing quietly at their doors…smiling and greeting the kids as they come in. Mine is different.  I am at the door, but as soon as they come in the class, they hear a song being played that is current, upbeat, and catchy. You see them nervously look at each other like, “What is going on?” Then you see them smile, giggle, and whisper among each other. The next thing you know, their heads are bobbing…they are singing along with the lyrics, and a few of them are dancing to the music. Great way to start the day….right?

I use music throughout the day and play music that they love. It is like magic when I put on a song they like.  Immediately I have their attention. Sometimes I get up and dance with them…which obviously gets some laughs. They love it. Music is the universal language that everyone can relate to…even if they don’t speak English!

I bought a small wireless Bluetooth speaker that I sync with my cell phone.  I have a play list of appropriate music on my phone which I constantly update as new songs come out.  I check out the lyrics first on Lyrics.com or Youtube to make sure there is nothing offensive in the lyrics.  I sometimes uses KidzBop music if there is a song I like but want G rated lyrics. KidzBop sounds almost identical to the original version of the music but the lyrics have been changed to be age appropriate.

This past week I was doing circle up with my class.  This is a ritual that is repeated in classrooms all over America daily…particularly with elementary age kids. The kids sit in a circle and pass around a stuffed animal or a baton.  Whoever has it gets to speak. I pick the topic. With this class, I had already told them I was Superman and I was married to WonderWoman, so the topic for today was going to be: If they could be any Super Hero, who would they be and why?

One little boy sheepishly looked up and said, “Can I just pass?”  I smiled and said, “Yes, but if you pass, you have to stand up and sing to the class!”  LOL.  The class nervously giggled and started the stuffed animal around the ring.  Everyone participated till we got to Bobby.  He looked at me out of the corner of his eye and said he did not want to participate.  I said fine, they you get to sing!  He laughed and asked, “Can I have some friends join me?”  I said, “Of course!” So five little 3rd grade boys are huddled together in the back of the room plotting what they are going to do.  They come back and do a little song and silly dance routine that had the rest of the class screaming with laughter. The girls were not going to be outdone, so the next girl in line said she did not want to participate…and her and some of her friends got up and did a routine for the rest of the class. The five minutes was literally electric…and the kids were buzzing with excitement for the day…in a good way.

I know I have done my job well when we get the tasks assigned by the regular teacher done, the kids are engaged, and at the end of the day, I am getting hugs and they are asking me if I can come back tomorrow. That is what makes MY day.

Music can unify a class, break down barriers to learning, and energize the kids to learn. Try it…you just might find that you can bust a move too.  LOL.

Shalom!

Dan Skognes

 

2 Responses to “Weapons of Mass Instruction”

  1. marina says:

    Amazing article! Great job! I agree music is an international language, music makes the world go round. I am an ESL teacher and every time I teach a song in class we all sing and dance and have a great time not only singing and dancing but also learning English at the same time and in the end it is very rewarding and we are all happy.

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