“You are dumb!” How many times have we heard these words in so many different contexts? Most of the times, we hear these words when we cannot understand certain topics such as reading a Shakespeare play, solving Math problems, playing an instrument, or playing soccer. But, what if we were doing it all wrong? Are we all good at Math, Sciences, Languages, or Sports? The answer is NO! Most of us are not good at doing it all and that is OK.
In our classroom, we have all different kind of students. We have students who love sports or those who love art, even those who are fascinated by solving Rubik cubes or they cannot stop dancing or singing along. Now, the question is, do they all learn the same way? Can we engage them by using their own interests? The answer is YES! Even though Physics might be boring and tedious for a talented musician, we can come up with rhymes or songs that will have the same impact than reading the info from a textbook.
Let’s see an example. When I was teaching Spanish I to 9th graders, I didn’t realize that 8 out of 14 students’ traits were predominantly bodily-kinesthetic and musical. I was not able to get them to listen to me for 10 minutes. I cried every time I left that classroom. One day, I decided to try something new. I passed the info from the textbook to a PowerPoint presentation. I added some of their favorite singers and some music. As a result, I had 14 students listening to my lesson for 50 minutes. UNBELIEVABLE! Even they learned a song that will repeat the conjugation of irregular verbs.
From that day on, I had a group of students who listened to me, choose me as a mentor, and they found in my classroom a safe space to share ideas, concerns, and talents. I taught them that every time they heard the word dumb, they should answer, I am not dumb, I just see and understand things different from you!
Here are some examples from my own classes: