Methods #3: Enjoying Some of the Psychology of Teaching

Teaching Outside the Box has been and enjoyable learning experience.  I have always enjoyed reading authors that are not afraid of telling it like it is while providing real world examples, especially when it is a ‘how to’ style of book meant to assist the reader in completing the same type of work of the author.  LouAnne Johnson utilizes many examples from her own teaching experience to help perspective, and current, teachers to master their craft.

I enjoyed the section about grabbing students by their brains.  In this section she explains that people are more subjectable to persuasion when their brain encounters something the is unexpected.  At first I was quietly saying, “Well Duh!” to myself as I read.  Johnson uses the first day of school as an example for persuading students because they are expectant of several things for which they can be taken off guard.  Everyone expects the same old, feeling out the teacher, hearing the same boring rules over and over throughout the day.  Johnson suggests using this as an opportunity to connect with students by showing a video or providing them with interesting relevant information and most importantly making an effort to persuade them.

Again, I thought, “Duh!”  But then, I recalled all of my years of education.  I was constantly bombarded with the expected one day one.  My teachers seldom disappointed the expectation of shear boredom.  It is groundbreaking science that Johnson discusses.  Authors and directors use this physiological technique a great deal when entertaining us.  They present something unexpected which has us following along with eager anticipation and in the end they shock us with something that is blatantly obvious.  If you have ever seen the movie The Sixth Sense you understand that M. Night Shyamalam definitely had us all seeing dead people.

LouAnne Johnson goes on to reveal some of her first day speech and the psychology behind some ideas.  For example, she tells her students that they start with an A in her class.  Though there is no actual difference between an A and a zero on the first day of class, research suggests that students will try harder to keep an A rather than trying to earn one from a zero due to the perception of having earned something for nothing.  Anyone experiencing their wife’s gravitational pull to a bogo sale at a shoe store when you are shopping for a gift for someone else understands this technique very well.


One thought on “Methods #3: Enjoying Some of the Psychology of Teaching

  1. I have to confess, I was skeptical about some of this stuff when I first read it. I mean, would my students really care if I told them they had an A on the first day of class? It turns out the answer is YES, they did care. Especially those so-called “at risk” kids who had never had an A before. I had actual A’s written down in my gradebook and showed them to students so it was a tangible thing that they could protect. So much of teaching really is about psychology, so it’s useful to understand some basic concepts about working with others, motivating, and persuading.


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