Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future | Joe Ruhl | TEDxLafayette
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Teaching Methods for Inspiring the Students of the Future | Joe Ruhl | TEDxLafayette

October 21, 2019


Translator: Tanya Cushman
Reviewer: Queenie Lee I have one of the best jobs in the world because I get to work
with people who are fun, funny, energetic, creative and insightful. And they happen to be 14
to 18 years of age. I really do think
kids keep a person young, and I think that’s probably why,
when I’m in the presence of adults, I sometimes don’t know how to act, so you’ll forgive me. So, inspiring the students of the future. What really works? 37 years of teaching experience
have taught me that two things are needed: research-based teaching techniques
and relationship. Relationship is huge,
but we’ll talk more about that later. What I’d like to look at first
are the techniques. I think probably most of us remember
the teacher-centered classroom; this is probably what we
are familiar with from our youth. You remember the teacher
was up front in the center, the students were in nice neat rows,
not allowed to talk to each other, and the teacher, the source of authority,
downloaded information to the kids, who regurgitated it back up on a test designed to measure
how much content they could remember. Now, I have to admit, I love lecturing, but my students don’t always love it; it does not always inspire. So I was thinking, what really inspires? Years ago, I was doing
lunch duty at school, standing in the lunchroom, being visible, watching kids go through
the cafeteria line, and as I watched the kids
going through the line, it occurred to me
they love having choices. And so I said to myself, “Self,
maybe that would work in the classroom. Let the kids have choices.” And so that’s what I did. I converted my classroom to a situation where student choice
was a big part of the room along with four other Cs: Collaboration, communication,
critical thinking and creativity. Actually, over ten years ago,
the National Education Association identified those last
four Cs on the list as essential 21st century skills
that kids should learn, and I agree wholeheartedly. I’ve added choice to the top of the list not as a skill for kids to learn, but rather as a characteristic
of the classroom. By choice, I mean a situation where many learning activities
are available to students, designed to meet the many
diverse learning styles that they have. And the kids love it as much
as they love choices in the cafeteria. Now, I think we’re made for learning this way. Imagine our early hominid ancestors
out looking for food. Don’t you know that finding
and tracking that woolly mammoth required critical thinking
and problem-solving? It definitely required
collaboration, teamwork. I mean, you wouldn’t want
to do this by yourself. No way. And collaboration required communication. And then I imagine those people
sitting around the campfire at night, reliving the adventures of the day’s hunt. They must have had smiles on their faces when they were retelling
the story of the hunt. And I know they smiled when they put those cave
paintings up on the wall because creativity is a uniquely human, pleasurable, satisfying activity. So I believe our brains
are wired for the five Cs. And since they’re wired for the five Cs, that authentic learning will happen when kids are allowed
to engage in the five Cs. And not just learning, but I think kids will enjoy
a classroom setup like this and even be inspired in this way. Now, this requires – A classroom setup based
on the five Cs requires a shift from a teacher-centered classroom
to a student-centered classroom. And this requires the teacher to remove
him or herself from front and center, becoming more of a guide on the side
rather than a sage on the stage. But this opens up opportunities to not merely teach, but to coach, to mentor, to nurture and inspire, and that’s why I love it so much. Now, time out. It’s important for me to mention
these are not my original ideas; I stand on the shoulders of giants. Remember Plutarch? He said it a long time ago: “The mind is not a vessel
that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting.” And more recently, Albert Einstein: “Education is not the learning of facts,
but the training of the mind to think.” All right. You’re going
to have to bear with me. I’m going to get real
goose-bumpy for a minute. One of the absolute,
most exciting moments of my life, my professional life
was meeting Albert Einstein just a few years ago. (Laughter) Changed my life, bumping into him in that wax museum. (Laughter) What a moment it was. So I stand on the shoulders of giants, giants like Montessori and Piaget, and Dr. Sam Postlewait,
who was doing a lot of these things in his biology classes
at Purdue University, back in the 1960s. I’m a product of the Purdue
Biology Department; that’s where I fell in love with biology. I stand on the shoulders of giants, like Tom Watts and Steve Randak, who were doing this back in the 1970s
in their high school biology classes. I stand on the shoulders of many giants
called elementary school teachers and special ed teachers. So, I’m a product of all of those mentors. So, collaboration, communication,
critical thinking, creativity and student choice, what’s it look like? If I could just share with you briefly
the experiences that I’ve tried with this: I’ve taken my ninth-grade biology classes and divided the school year
up into two- to three-week units. At the beginning of each unit, the students are given a menu of all the smorgasbord activities
that are available on the menu. Now, this has been challenging because I’ve had to write
all of these activities so that no matter what combination
of activities a student chooses to do, based on their learning styles, and no matter what order
they choose to do them in, they’ll still achieve
the required objectives for the unit. It’s been fun; it’s been a challenge. But the kids love it. They love having the choice, and there are many times when they
forget that I’m even in the room, and that’s okay. One of the things that is not required – There are two activities normally
in every unit that are not required: One is the test at the end of the unit, and the other one
is the computer tutorial. I’ve taken several summers and written these self-paced,
interactive computer tutorials that the kids work through. They’re designed to take the place
of the stuff I used to lecture on. Kids have told me in private, “Mr. Ruhl, we like the tutorials
better than your lectures.” And that’s okay, that’s perfectly okay, because it’s all about them. And so if you came to visit
my class on a typical day, you would see some kids
working through the computer tutorials. You would very likely see some kids
working on some website activities online. It’s possible you would see some kids
in a corner of the room with headphones on watching a video related to the unit, writing out answers to questions
that accompany the video. I’m sure you would see students
doing laboratory activities. You would probably notice some kids tending to their ongoing
science fair projects, and I know for sure, you would probably find
a group of kids off in another corner around an educational game
designed to teach them about some biological concept
related to the unit. And you would likely see some kids doing some hands-on, minds-on simulations, learning about some other
biological phenomena. I know you would see
some kids off in a corner filling out what are called
“reflection sheets,” that are designed to get them
to think about their learning, self-evaluate their efforts, take past knowledge
and connect it to new knowledge. And there’s one other activity on the menu
that a lot of kids really enjoy. It’s called “Arts and Entertainment.” It’s on the menu in every unit, and this is where the students take
any concept they’ve learned in the unit and at home, develop some kind
of a project presentation and then present it
to the rest of the class on the last day of the unit. Arts and Entertainment has to be nontraditional; it’s only limited by their imagination. So they can come in and perform a song, a skit, present a movie, present a model that they’ve built, poetry, any nontraditional way
of demonstrating their knowledge of something they’ve learned in the unit. For example, these two young ladies
in our biochemistry unit took it upon themselves to build
a model of a chlorophyll molecule using gumdrops to represent the atoms. These two young ladies – they’re sisters – they happened to decide
to demonstrate in a very creative way the fact that they each inherited
half of their genes from mom and half of their genes from dad. (Laughter) Got to love them. This method of teaching,
for me, I have found – 37 years experience – is not only effective, but it’s fun because it allows me to sit down
with small groups of students while I’m team-teaching
with that fleet of ten computers; it gives me the opportunity to sit down with a group of two,
three or four or five kids and respond to questions
that they initiate. It allows me the opportunity
to listen to their thinking, and, teachers, when you do this, if you do this, the whole situation creates
somewhat of a teacher paradox. Because by removing yourself
from front and center, you seem to become less important, but paradoxically, in reality you become more important because when working
as a guide on the side, you’re freed up to use
the most powerful teaching techniques I have ever run across in 37 years. They’re as old as the hills; it doesn’t matter
what techniques are used, these two always work. I’m talking about two loves. First, the teacher’s love for the subject
and passion for the subject. And secondly, the teacher’s
genuine love for the kids. First, let’s talk about the passion. You know what I remember
about third grade? I remember Jenny on the bus. I’m not kidding. Third grade. No, the thing I remember most
about the classroom in third grade is I remember our teacher
every day after lunch would read to us for 10 to 15 minutes; she would read to us “Tom Sawyer.” What an adventure! We had black-and-white TV, we had cartoons on TV, but this was different. It was obvious to us
that Miss Hershey loved reading, and she was passionate
about reading to us. Tom Sawyer! What an adventure! At the end of the 10-minute
reading period, I couldn’t wait until the next day to find out what would happen
to Tom and his friends. I don’t know if Miss Hershey
realized it or not, I should have written her a letter
a long time ago. She inspired me to be a reader. But you see, she wasn’t saddled
with state-mandated standards and state-mandated,
high-stakes standardized testing, and so she was free to teach and inspire. I’ll never forget her. She means the world to me. I should have written her a long time ago. Then for that other love. Teacher’s love for the kids. If there are any teachers
in the audience, don’t get nervous. I’m not talking about warm,
fuzzy, emotional love. I’m talking about genuine, decisional,
put-the-other-person-first kind of love. It motivates; it inspires in a powerful way. I’m talking about the kind of love that – C.S. Lewis wrote about it
in his book “The Four Loves.” He described it as “agape love,”
the highest level of love known, a self-sacrificial kind of love, a love that’s passionately committed
to the well-being of the other. This kind of love is not always emotional, but it is always decisional. So, teachers, great news. This means you can love your kids
even when they’re not likable. Does that ever happen? Because this kind of love
is not emotional, it’s decisional, and it motivates and inspires
in a powerful way, and it’s as old as the hills. So, teachers … an airtight lesson plan is important. A well-organized, consistent
discipline plan is important. Effective use of technology is important. The standards are important, but, please, don’t let them
stifle your creativity. All these things are important, but what the kids
are going to remember most of all is you. Don’t forget that sixth C: Caring. That is the most effective, most powerful,
most inspiring way of teaching: getting their attention,
motivating them, inspiring them. What they’re going to remember most
is that you looked them in the eye and asked them about
their extra-curricular activities and their part-time jobs. What they’re going to remember most is that you just asked them in the hall
how they were doing. What they’re going to remember most is you worked really hard
in the first couple weeks of school to learn their names
in the first couple days. What they’re going to remember most is that you went to their athletic events and their concerts. What they’re going to remember most is that you led the class in loud, off-key choruses
of “Happy Birthday.” What they’re going to remember most
is that when they made the newspaper, you put their newspaper clippings up
on the wall in the classroom, and you told them to autograph them, and you told them to do that so that some day when their autographs
were worth lots of money, it would fund your retirement. (Laughter) What they’re going to remember
is that you were transparent, and that you were real, and that you had the ability
to laugh at yourself and laugh with them. So, what’s really important? How do we motivate? How do we inspire? Allow kids to involve themselves
in the classroom in student-choice collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity. But don’t forget that sixth C. It’s probably the most important one because the greatest of these is love. Thank you. (Applause)

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  1. The 5 Cโ€™s is something that isnโ€™t taught often from K-12, however, when we get to a college-level we are expected to do it. We are also mostly taught only what the teacher knows, and we arenโ€™t always allowed to go outside the box because inside the box we have our state exams. We should push students to color outside the lines.

  2. Thank you for sharing about your experience and techniques. I am now less terrified to become a teacher.

  3. I LOVE this talk. Best TEDzx I have heard. As a new teacher I grasp onto the words of those who truly have a passion to love and educate kids. I want more talks by Joe Ruhl please!!

  4. I always confused what types of activity i choose for the students which gives the students more and more understanding about a topic

  5. Student of the future… does it mean yet to born child? I can't think of anyone student of the future and not today other than someone who has yet to born.

  6. Hey guys, I came here because I would love your feedback on something and it is relevant to this type of video. I recently put together a little guide on everything I've learned on Efficient Learning, and I'd love for some of you to read it and give me feedback. Sounds good? Reply and I'll get in touch with you! – thanks

  7. what a powerful lecture! he approached such an elusive concept that is teaching with an astonishing way. he drove his point to the home. he is right to include in his classroom a strand of liberty. in our nowadays, kids are a prey to the boredom who assails them constantly. I definittely, mix my humble to his. This method, should be subject of discussion and I my opinion should be explored, and exploited. hand down, caring is the most powerful who will definied what in the futur will look like relationship between teacher and former studiant.

  8. Iโ€™m going to research on classmates and then write a paper about what they like about their favorite subject

  9. I am a teacher for a long time already but still I am awed by this video… I couldnโ€™t remember the number of times I watch this…so inspiring…

  10. As a teacher This video really impressed and convinced me to go on working with the students the way I do. Explicitly stated.

  11. He says too much. He never questions whether the material being covered is worthy, grasped by thinking with the author/scientist, or is it just memorized stuff reinforced by computer game drills. Had he started with the concept of love and tried to develop his pedagogy out it, it would have been more interesting.

  12. # Why I teach
    For effective teaching and learning to take place, a lot of pedagogical methods have been added in the 21st century teaching skills and techniques to facilitate easy retention and good performance .6Cs skills are now embedded in the curriculum to FasTrack learning. These include ; Collaboration, Communication,Critical thinking and problem solving, Creativity, Choice, and Caring.
    TEACHER PARADOX implies various teaching techniques used to facilitate teaching and learning. There is a shift from teacher centered to student centered. The teacher takes past knowledge and connect to new knowledge. For effective teaching to take place there are two (2) loves involved; the teacher's genuine love for the subject and passion for the subject, and the teacher's genuine love for the students. A good teacher must have an effective lesson plan, effective use of technology, adequate extra curricular activities, allow students to learn by themselves,and have transparent characters to inspire the students.
    Above all teacher must show agape love to all his students for his objectives to be achieved

    ADEBAJO SUNDAY AYODELE.

  13. Bravo! Children of all ages aspire to belong, be heard and be all they can BE! As educators, myself an Elementary Special Education Teacher, I strive everyday to empower student curiosity, social communication, emotional well being, brain power (critical thinking) and WONDER through interactive learning. I am a huge fan of student choice and develop most of my lessons to meet the needs of individual learning styles. I love your suggestion of creating a menu. I'm on it! Thank you for your wisdom and insight….I feel it's imperative to 'shift' learning environments from teacher-centered to student-centered…..and I truly believe it can be done (regardless of the demands of standards-based curriculums and testing)!

  14. I' ve just come through your inspire video!
    First of all, THANK YOU!
    I've been a teacher for 22 years now…and I think still I am in the XIX century…I live in Portugal…instability rules in Portugal…how can we motivate students we don't know a d they dkn't know us? Can you answer my question?
    How can we motivate students if they don't like LEARNING?
    Please, answer me?
    How can I motivate students if they don't loke this school…and I can't change it…?

  15. ยกHola! Wonderful talk! Congratulations Mr. Joe Ruhl. I studied English as a second language at Saint Mary of the Woods College in Terre Haute Indiana. Itยดs a pleasure to meet you. And thank you TEDx Talks for sharing this inspiring video. I love TEDx Talks conferences. Saludos desde Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mรฉxico.

  16. Thank you so much Sir for this valuable information. I'm planning to start my career as teacher next year after completing my degree in teaching. And this will be very helpful for me and following your method will keep me engaged and enjoy the work I do.

  17. In Education no one should left behind. A teacher learns from student attitudes and adjust for his methods of teaching. On the other hand a students learns from teachers because they understand the lessons easily thru methods of teaching.

  18. Have to agree with Louie Furio's' comment "what the kids are gonna remember most of all is you", most I've cried since Iron Man passed away! haha

  19. I wish this kind of talks were the focus of most of our PDs!!! Thank you so so much! I canโ€™t wait to see my students again on Monday))

  20. this was a great video, I created an Instructor techniques channel for Teachers, Instructors, presenters, come check me out, Im new and could use some support from the community

  21. Teaching for the past 22 years , I use creativity and home atmosphere with my children . Miracles happens in learning. Best wishes to all the teachers here . I still love teaching .

  22. Thank you!! This is the best TED talk I have ever seen. It can actually be learned and applied. I am taking notes!

  23. I d love learning in a new way, it has been tried, but the second kids are allowed to talk in the class I am part of, they just don't care and talk about whatsoever or stay on their phones.

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