Old habits die hard

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Recently, I encountered several teachers, who are stuck in their traditional world, and it hit me that old habits die hard.

One teacher announced that her students were awful at following simple directions for bell work, which included putting a proper heading on the paper. (These are 7th graders.) “So,” she complained, “We  spent the entire class period on bell work.

My thought? Throw out the bell work. Then, she’d have no lesson at all, but the students’ enthusiasm might increase.
As students passed through the hallways, another colleague spied a young man who had a ball cap strapped to his belt loop. He was immediately dispatched back to his locker to return the head cover.

My thought? Seriously, is a cap on a belt loop worth taking a teenager’s mind off of learning?

Later, a student asked me to go to the bathroom with only a minute left in class. “The bell is about to ring,” I told him. He frowned, before informing me that his next teacher never lets students go. So, I told the teacher that a student said, “You never let them go to the bathroom.” His response. “I don’t.”

My thought? What if you had to pee, and I told you it wasn’t allowed?

It’s remarkable to me that the simplest acts, things that build teacher-student rapport and encourage a thirst for learning, are constantly ignored by veteran teachers.

I guess old habits really do die hard.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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