Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Maverick's Secret TBBofB Part II (Dear Katie V2 #21)

' “What is…What is Bing doing?”

“Well, he’s having fun”, 

and that was the secret of the Mavs.'

-Lou Russell, wife of Bing Russell, owner of the Portland Mavericks
speaking with the son of a L.A. Dodgers executive 
as Bing and the team took a victory lap around the stadium

Dear Katie,

Continuing on with my thoughts about the documentary The Battered Bastards of Baseball, today I will share possibly the most important attribute in gaining a student's attention.  If you fail to exhibit this, I can assure you that your ability to get your students to improve will be hindered without a doubt.

The Portland Mavericks had FUN.  Yes, they were dedicated to baseball and winning, but they realized if they loved the game, it should be fun. Bing Russell, the owner, realized baseball shouldn't be operated like a business, or as if the player has joined the army.  The Mavericks had a player named Joe Garza, who simply became known under one name, Jogarza.  Whenever the Mavericks would be closing in on winning all the games in a series against a team (known as a sweep) he would run around the stadium inciting the fans by carrying a broom.  He would sweep home plate with the broom.  He would warm up with the broom.  Eventually, the fans would bring brooms with them on games that a Maverick victory would mean a sweep. 

Having fun doesn't mean accepting less than people's best.  Everyone on that team played hard.  Every one on that team wanted to win.  I believe that their delight in playing the game as displayed in their antics attributed to their success.

What does this mean for your classroom?  

It means you have to demonstrate to your students
that you enjoy what you are teaching them. 

You have to demonstrate for your students your subject is FUN!

Years ago I taught an Adult Sunday School class on Church History.  A PhD scientist who attended my class approached me one day and said, "You look like you really enjoy each topic you teach, I think that's what makes each class interesting."

(I figure due to his intelligence and the degree he obtained, he must have sat in on MANY lectures and had a good understanding what made one interesting and not)

At Back to School night I discuss some of the games and activities in class.  Usually I hear parents say, "sounds like fun", and often I reply, "I don't do this because your kids find it fun, I do it because I find it fun."

And I do.  I have fun watching kids get excited in playing a review game.  I have fun watching a group's unique solution to a problem in a simulation I am running.  I have fun seeing the creativity of my students through a project.

Fun is contagious, and there is nothing wrong with having it in the classroom.  If you love teaching, if your love the subject you teach, and love the kids in your classroom, how can you not display you are having fun.

And having fun does not mean sacrificing quality.  Your job is to reach kids, to get them to think.  Why do so many teachers believe that can only happen in a clinical, industrial style setting of seats and rows where the student only has a chance to participate in the class when asked?

At the end of each year, I ask students to share a thought to prepare the next year's students for my class.  Every year, this is a typical quote I get:

"Be prepared to have FUN, but don't think there isn't any work to do
or that you won't learn anything.  You will just have fun doing it."

And when your classroom gains a reputation for being fun, it will not just pull the students who are more academically inclined, but also the ones who may struggle in other classes.

When the Maverick baseball team did victory laps with their brooms held high, they weren't attracting the die hard baseball fans, they would have come out to watch no matter what.  They pulled in the casual fan who wanted in on the fun.

Design your class so you pull in the casual student to get in on the fun!

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