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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Create the "Cool"

Last week something happened to me at home that reinforced things that teachers need to do. It all started when my son (who wasn't feeling well) wanted to wear his "NASCAR pyjamas." Great idea - but they have short sleeves in a sometimes drafty house. "You could wear your housecoat," Mom said. "No. I don't want to wear it," he protested. After some time sulking on the floor and finishing his fit, I got involved. Remembering that I have a housecoat (which I never wear), I put it on and starting 'selling' it. "Wow. This is SO warm and comfy! We're so lucky to get to wear housecoats at night-time. Hey, we both can wear housecoats and watch a show together before bed. That would be so cool!" I hope you sense the three-year-old tone in these comments. Being a parent causes you to build up a vast wealth of comments and tactics that work in times of crisis. After my sales pitch finished, he put on the housecoat and we went downstairs together. Fit forgotten, on with the show. It reminded me of that scene from "Billy Madison" when Sandler wets himself to protect the kid who had done it and then sells it to all the other kids as the thing they should do to be 'cool.' Luckily, I did not have to wet myself. But I did solve the problem and used a new method to do it.

We create the cool in our classrooms. Even intermediates want to fit in and belong when they sit in your chairs and rest on your desktops. If they can't be reached with your lesson - their friends maybe can. Use them as the social hook that will allow them to engage just long enough to see that they enjoy what you're doing. We can redefine 'the cool' in any situation if there is enough confidence and flare behind it. It is a sales pitch and they have all become accustomed to the techniques of advertising through countless media vehicles. They will recognize what you are attempting to do and either buy in or dismiss it. Just be prepared to move on with or without the disgruntled and wait to see if they tag along for the ride (even if solely to socialize with their friends).

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