I believe that classroom culture is of the utmost importance. It defines the learning. Some people would argue that classroom culture is determined within the first week. Some say, “you must set it early.” I tend to disagree.
Classroom culture in my estimation is constantly in flux. Events that happen within the context continually change culture. I think surprise is one of the most powerful tools of classroom culture.
Although routine is important to a student’s ability to deal with the ‘learning’ work, the unease of not knowing what will happen raises awareness and I believe engagement.
This speaks to the idea that lessons should not be planned weeks in advance. Not for the reason that you might not get through the material, but because surprise is as powerful for the teacher as it is for the student. Surprise lets teachers be in the moment.
Sometimes the surprise comes when a student who thinks he’s going to be in trouble finds the teacher laughing alongside him.
Sometimes the surprise comes when the expectation is altered mid-stream.
Sometimes the surprise is nothing but a change in the routine.
I think by allowing for surprise, using surprise, and maintaining the will to be surprised, classroom culture will be rich, trusting and effective for learning.
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