Unforgettable learning experiences…

Our classes should be filled with unforgettable learning experiences.

I just watched a video from Steven Spangler.  In it he says that teachers are not creating unforgettable learning experiences.  We teach facts, not wonder, discovery, and exploration.  Good teachers teach facts.  Great teachers give students an unforgettable learning experiences.  The student might not even remember what was learned in the class, but will remember loving the fact that they were sitting there every day.

For a day…ok…for a week…geez, really for most of this year, I have forgotten that I need to provide my kids with an unforgettable learning experience.  It really came to a head for me in my last post.

A day after I wrote my last post entitled “One Frown,”  I clicked on my Feedjit widget way down on the bottom of my right side bar on this blog.  It tells me what post a person person first comes to on my blog from somewhere on the internet.  One person had come to a post that I had written about Ken Robinson over a year ago.  I found it very ironic that right after I posted the depressing “One Frown,”  I clicked on the Ken Robinson post and found two comments from ex-students that helped me remember that the “One Email” that I talked about in “One Frown” should not influence why I teach, how I teach, or guide my decisions about future activities.  The comments took my frown…and turned it upside down.

Can I share the comments with you?  I hope that if you have read more than a few posts here you realize that I share these with an ample amount of humility…and as an extension of some of the comments on the last post.
This is why I…why We teach:

Comment #1
I was one of your students and I’m not going to lie. Your class was my favorite. I loved going into an environment so different from my other classes, yet so familiar in the way I naturally thought. You provided thought provoking work rather than the spoon fed information of my other classes. I can’t say I learned an immense amount of history in your class, but I did learn much about myself that year. I think that’s the most valuable information I’ve ever acquired and held onto in a classroom, even now. You’re right. The way you end eight grade is usually how you’ll end up for the rest of your life. I believe I’m a living, breathing example of that, and that I owe it to your teaching methods.

Comment #2
…In your class I learned more then any other class, because I could actually use the knowledge right then and there. Your class prepared me for life by making me think outside the box rather then giving the clear answer. Your class made me want to learn by giving us something we could experiment with rather then just something we could conclude.Your class was deeper and more useful then what the surface actually shows.

And my wife found this one on a kid’s blog…she sent it to me to cheer me up:
What would happen if i wasn’t on team 8-2 and didn’t have my social studies teacher anymore?  If I wasn’t in his class, I would have to learn a bunch of pointless stuff about world history that nobody needs to know to have a successful life as an adult.  I wouldn’t learn any real life scenarios that will help me later in life.  I would be bored.  I would still think inside of the box.  I wouldn’t be able to express my opinion and stories to the whole world.  If I wasn’t on this team, I wouldn’t know how far my mind could travel, what I could accomplish.  It would be a terrible thing to miss out on his social studies class.

Regardless of what the state, town, and parents throw at me.  I must still work to provide an unforgettable learning experience for my kids.  The reality is, that when they have one…so do I.

middle school social studies teacher


  1. Kids are not stupid. We seldom give them enough respect or credit for their ability to see through bullshit and pick up on honesty. They know who cares and who is calling it in. They know who loves learning and who could careless.

    We just lay it all out there as often and passionately as we can, and when we lose steam we tell them we are tired and regrouping. When we fly, we grab their arms and when we fall, we gather them around us and ask for a lift. We are in it together and when the kids see your commitment and love, they will:

    not even remember what was learned in the class, but will remember loving the fact that they were sitting there every day.

    Thanks for your heartfelt posts.

  2. I really enjoyed this post. The word mathematics has a lot of negative connotations for many students. Part of what I try and do in the mathematics classroom is to remove the fear, nausea and boredom that some associate with this subject. I hope that my class is one that students say “yay, it’s time for maths”. A lot of what works though, is spontaneous and directed by the students, when they change the course of the lesson. And you’re right, my favourite memories of schools are more about the experience and how I felt in the classes and the content is vague. Nice to see this so eloquently explained in this post and the posted video.

  3. Paul – I’ve spent a little time on your blog and it sounds like you are a great teacher and dad. You are all about the memorable experiences. Thank you for sharing our video with your post. Good luck in the classroom this year.

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