Creating Really Useful Educational Opportunities General by Joel Wagner - July 25, 2010July 25, 20101 If you’ve read much on my blog, you know that I do not have the traditional mindset of most educators. I have no problem with kids dropping out of school as long as they are doing so as a means of furthering their education. I don’t think that a college education is essential for success in the world. In fact, I know that it’s not. I recently was watching to a TED Talk by Cameron Herold (@CameronHerold on Twitter) that challenged me and also reinforced some of my previously-held views and articulated them in a way that shed new light on them. The talk was entitled Let’s raise kids to be entrepreneurs. You should watch it. If nothing else, you will pick up a few amazing parenting ideas from it. The last two things on the video are a list of things he says we should be teaching kids and a video. The list is pretty interesting to me, because a lot of the things I do in band are bordering on reinforcing these skills, but if I just pushed a little more, I could really go into them much deeper. How many of these skills are you teaching? I’ve included a couple suggestions of possible ways that I might encourage each of the skills this year. Problem solving“Why did you play the wrong note there?”Do some teacher-guided brainstorming of different ways to play higher/louder/better notes To lead othersProvide opportunities for all students to lead the group Do occasional small group work and give all students leadership responsibilities To want to make moneyUse monetary rewards for fundraising top seller incentives (possibly?) Discuss the importance of earning potential Public speakingAllow students to speak at concert performacesProvide opportunities for all students to occasionally tell stories/jokes Reward students for volunteering To ask questionsEncourage every question, no matter how silly or redundant it may seemThank students for asking questions To learn from mistakesUse mistakes as a springboard for growth“We all mess up, but we need to grow from that experience so we don’t make the same mistake twice” How to sellEncourage occasional negotiations about minor grading/rule changesEncourage students to do the selling (and discourage parent intervention) in the fall fundraiser To never give upMake difficult assignments and don’t back downReward extraordinary effort To be creativeStudents create concert programs, including coming up with program notesLet students make posters to decorate the classroomAllow students to update the bulletin board and any other displays How to save moneyDiscuss the importance of saving money for purchases rather than spending it immediatelyCharge $0.25 for each replacement copy of a paper the students need; use the money later to pay for class rewards To ask for helpEncourage every question, no matter how silly or redundant it may seemThank students for asking questions To see solutionsPresent real-world problems to the students and allow them to brainstorm ways to solve themCome up with the most efficient way to store all of the supplies in the classroom See, I think we usually focus on the same three or four of these skills all the time. I know some of what I’ve done in the past has actually been counterproductive to some of these, so the challenge for me is to be more encouraging of the curiosity of my students and let them actually be kids. This video that ended the talk is the essence of where we ought to be directing our students. So what are you going to do this year to foster the entrepreneurial spirit of your students? Joel WagnerJoel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.