“Greetings little people. I have three basic rules in my classroom. First, when I am talking, everyone has to listen. I expect big eyes on me and big ears listening to what I say. Secondly, I expect everyone to be kind to one another. We are not going to fight, tattle on one another, or say things that are hurtful. Lastly, we are going to have fun! You like to have fun, right?” All the kids shout, “Yes!” “OK then, remember that if you forget to do the first two, we can’t have fun. Got it?” Everyone gives me a thumbs up. This is how I begin my classes in elementary school. It helps to set the tone and expectations for the day.
When I see kids in the hallway I always smile at them and give them eye contact. Sometimes we do the high 5 and sometimes I stand at attention and salute them. They giggle and salute me back. One kid asked me if I was in the military. I said, “No, but I am the President.” You could hear them murmur, “What? Wait…no! Really???” One of the kids said, “You are not President Obama,” to which I replied, “I did not say I was President of the United States (I have had my own company for many years). :o)
I like to ask them how old they think I am. They make lots of guesses, then I ask them, “Can you keep a secret?” They lean in listening as I lower my voice. “I am 110 years old!” Once again you hear the murmurs, “What? Wait…no! Really?” I keep a straight face and say, “Yes, really. I look pretty good though, don’t you think? The secret to living that long is you have to eat your vegetables.” LOL. That gets them really wondering.
Then I tell them they can call me Mr. Dan, or Superman…because I am Superman. “What? Wait….no! Really? Where is your cape? Show us you can fly.” To this I reply, “I am not wearing my cape today because I am working undercover…but I can show you how I can fly. You have to watch very closely because I fly very fast. Ready? (I wait a second) Want to see it again?” LOL. They giggle and shake their heads.
I told one class that I was on Dancing With The Stars once. After all the other tall tales I had told them they were skeptical. One kid asked me, “So if you were really on Dancing With The Stars, who was your partner?” I said, “It was before your time. Her name was Eleanor Rigby.” Everyone looked at me like who was that? All of them…except one little girl who looked up at me, smiled, and said, “They didn’t get that one.” That made ME laugh. Never underestimate what kids know these days!
To engage kids, you have to do the following:
- Show them you care.
- Give them eye contact.
- Speak on their level.
- Make them laugh from time to time.
- Allow them to be kids.
- Do things they don’t expect.
- Capture their imagination.
- Love them.
- Give them rules to guide them and routines to follow.
- Help them feel safe.
I love teaching kids because I learn so much from them in return. They are truly remarkable little people.