Make learning compulsory and attendance optional.

When I first started teaching, I modelled my style after a favourite High School teacher of mine. Like me, she was young, with-it and taught Jewish History. Thing is, she didn't quite have the best classroom management techniques. She prepared short lessons, designed to fill only 1/2 to 3/4 of the allotted time. Then we'd gather 'round her desk and chat. Sometimes she didn't prepare at all. None of us minded. We felt very close to Ms. Young - we were her first students ever, we celebrated her engagement, wedding and the birth of her first child throughout the four years she taught us. But I was never scared of her. Not the slightest.
My head told me that I ought to be modelling after my Math teacher instead. Mrs. Math was scary! We did our homework nightly (though it meant schlepping home a textbook and notebook), studied hard for our weekly tests and were silent as the grave in the classroom. There was a stretch when I tutored a fun-loving classmate for a few months - even the Clown of the Class wanted to do well in Mrs. Math's class. Still, I have fond memories of Mrs. Math. By the time we were in our second year with her, she was telling us stories and there was a lovely atmosphere, but still very formal. It was clear that Mrs. Math was boss.
Make learning compulsory and attendance optional.
That wasn't necessarily Mrs. Math's mantra. Her's was probably more like, "I am KING" - because she was! Still, I think adopting that line would make for a classroom where the learning is much more effective. Whatever has to happen will happen, but I as teacher have one strong goal for each lesson. A mission, if you will. And I'm out there to make that learning happen! Be there or be square...


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