It’s great to be weird—here are three strategies educators can use to help students embrace their weirdness

How to keep your students weird

It’s great to be weird—here are three strategies educators can use to help students embrace their weirdness

  • Authenticity: Your students are all unique. Letting them express that uniqueness helps you understand them more deeply and allows them to be their authentic selves. One way we can accomplish this is by being open to their diverse gifts and interests. Show your students that you see their talents and that you value them and save yourself some time and energy while you’re at it. For each student, identify a few of their gifts, and then think of ways you can put that gift to work in the classroom. You can also be proactive by having students share what’s on their mind with an Ask-It Basket and allocating time to follow up on these curiosities.

  • Understanding: We pay attention to and remember things that stand out. Put that fact to use by injecting novelty into your classroom to boost student retention and understanding. One of my personal favorite strategies is something I like to call “The Baboon Effect.” Take a normal, ordinary, boring task and inject a little levity by adding a baboon, a weasel, a poodle, some mayonnaise, or a supervillain named Fred. Little tweaks and twists like this make things more fun and keep your students in that weird frame of mind. (Here’s just one strange way to bring baboons into your class.)

Of course, you have your own authentic ways to inject weirdness into your classroom — to show students that you value their differences and diversity. So, let’s celebrate the strange, make room for the unusual, and most of all, let your students know that your classroom is a place where it’s safe to be a little different. After all, history is full of weirdos who went on to explore, discover, invent, and thrive. Who says our students can’t go on to do the same?

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