Ideas from the book ‘Guerrilla Teaching’ by Jonathan Lear
A change of perspective
Every now and then an idea or concept comes along in education which just makes 100% sense. Guerrilla education and the ‘guerrilla teaching’ approach is that idea, pioneered by teacher/educator Jonathan Lear.
After reading his book, which I highly advise, I was inspired to try out some of the ideas. Here are the top takeaways complete with some ideas on how to implement them.
Giving students a role as reflective learners, self managers, team workers etc is really powerful. I created badges for each role that are worn by students during team/group work in the lesson. Students loved the new roles and asked to rotate regularly.
Ask yourself the question; How Do I model learning?
Lear uses the term ‘magnet eyes’ to describe how teachers must pay attention to the details, specifically how we model learning to the very students we wish to inspire. Little quirks like our body language, our outlook on things and the way we react can have a huge influence on our class. How we phrase words and the language we use will also be absorbed by our students. Magnet eyes made me think about how our mood and mojo influence students and the impacts this can have, both positive and negative.
The most memorable teacher I can recall used the bring giant stuffed animals into his History class. We, the students spent the next hour wondering what the purpose of the stuffed animal was. At the end of the lesson he picked up the animal and simply walked out. He had the class transfixed, attentive and wondering for the full hour. I am not advocating we do this but the concept is cool. Student’s are curious, creative and capable of using their imagination so why don’t we tap into this more often?
A wonderment is essentially a moment you create that captures the students imagination. This could be a question, an image or a backpack full of things that form the lesson objective.
Try these questions as wonderment lesson starters
DOES THE EARTH LOOK AFTER US, OR DO WE LOOK AFTER THE EARTH?
WHAT MAKES A COMMUNITY?
ARE WE ALREADY LIVING IN THE FUTURE?
The swinging tennis ball
This little trick is a game changer and will engage the quietest of students in lively competitive learning. All you need is a piece of string (50 cm long) and a tennis ball. Use a sharp object to pierce the ball and guide the string through, tie a knot in end and you have a ‘shining question ball’. Take care not to hurt yourself in the process. To use your new toy pick a topic and simply swing the ball between players, normally two. They have the time it takes for the ball to pendulum to answer the question. To increase challenge decrease the pendulum making thinking time faster.
Change the experience
I often see teachers try to engage students through starters, DNAs (Do Now Activity) and lesson objectives. When I started to explore Flipped Learning, I found a way to start lessons with learning, instead of engagement. Students were already engaged as they had watched the video. This led to discussion, active learning (activity) then engagement. Students were desperate to know what we were doing next, what video to watch which completed the Learning-Activity-Engagement loop above.
If you are inspired to read Guerrilla Teaching, here is a link to the page https://guerrillaeducation.co.uk