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Sunday, 15 March 2015

Teaching Gimmicks

There is a lot of Twitter talk at the moment about the pop culture of motivational posters. Society in general but perhaps teaching more specifically is littered with them, they even feature in lots of school mottos.

This debate promoted me to reflect upon the many 'gimmicks' which teaching has been subjected to over the last 10 years. Below are some of the ones that stick in my mind the most and due to my pragmatic approach the ones I subjected my various classes to at the time. 

Brain Gym - This initiative led to classes full of children all around the country staring at the point of their finger whilst they drew a figure of eight on its side or pointing and stretching across their bodies in a move reminiscent of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever! Teachers were advised to put brain breaks into the middle of most lessons or at least during mid morning and mid afternoon when it was muted that the pupils attention was at its worse. 

Brain Breaks - mid lesson when pupils were beginning to become distracted the teacher would ask them to stand up, put on a piece of music and jiggle, shake, jump about. The memory of this makes me laugh out loud, it must have been a hilarious sight!

Peer Massage - this craze came with a series of massage techniques that pupils performed on their partners back. Permission had to be given by parents and pupils. The permission from pupils had to be given to their massage partner at the beginning of each session. Massage took place after lunch as this was seen as the part of the day that had the worst behaviour triggers and peer massage was suggested as a way of calming children down. 

SEAL Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning)- a PSHE program based around themes. Each theme very structured in its delivery and beginning with a whole school launch via a whole school assembly. 

When I reflect upon using each of these 'new initiatives' it reminds me how much teachers were and still are subject to constant pressures upon the teaching day. How much we are subjected to political agendas. The curriculum is jam packed yet not a day passes without a suggestion in the media of what teachers needs to teach. 

All of these initiatives were suggested after,  I am sure, there was lots of research and evidence at the time on their effectiveness but were all of them failed was the lack of consideration for the packed curriculum. 

What are the present day teaching gimmicks?