Friday, July 9, 2010

8 Things Teachers Can Learn From Lady Gaga

Lady GaGa during her The Fame Ball Tour perfor...Image via Wikipedia

I'm sitting here this Friday morning watching The Today Show. Lady Gaga will soon perform on their outdoor stage. Her fans started showing up for the concert two days ago and so far 20,000 people are estimated to be in Rockefeller Plaza. She has almost 12 million fans on Facebook.

So as teachers, what can we learn from this?

Let's take them one at a time.

1. She loves her fans and has an amazing relationship with them. She sent pizza and water to fans who were waiting in line overnight.

As teachers we must have a love of our students. If you don't like children, why would you become a teacher in the first place? Students can tell if you truly like them or if you're just going through the motions.

2. She is fascinating to watch. She knows how to put on a show.

Teachers put on a show every day in class. It should capture the student's attention. I had a chemistry teacher who illustrated each day's lesson with a magic trick. No one ever skipped his class. We always wanted to see what he would do that day.

3. She is extremely talented. She knows her stuff.

Teachers must be talented in their subjects. Students immediately know if a teacher does not have an adequate knowledge of the material they're teaching.

4. She is cutting-edge. You never quite know what to expect from her.

Teachers need to surprise their students from time to time. The lessons learned when teachers break from the normal routine are the one students remember best. I still remember the math lesson when the teacher took us outside to use trigonometry to measure trees. I still remember when the Spanish teacher had us perform skits in Spanish on stage.

5. She has a knack for knowing what her fans want to hear and see.

Teachers need to keep up on what students are interested in and try to incorporate that into the classroom. I went to school during the Beatles era and remember how I loved it when we were able to play Beatles songs in band class.

6. She has an appeal for all ages. She calls her fans "little monsters," but I saw a lot of older people in the crowd.

Teachers need to appeal to their students. My favorite teachers were the ones who were down to earth and could communicate at their student's level. I had some who acted like it was imposition that there were students in their classes. There were others who knew their subject matter, but talked so far above their student's heads that the students learned little. And of course there were those who talked down to us, treated us as if we were morons.

7. She thanked her fans for making her dreams come true.

Teachers are definitely over-worked and underpaid. Perhaps if we were making the kind of money that Lady Gaga makes, we would be more appreciative. But the fact of the matter is that, if your job is teaching, then it is paying for all you own, do, eat, and enjoy. Your students are making your dreams come true, perhaps not all of your dreams, but in time, you will get most of the things you want. If your dreams are too big, then a teaching career is probably not for you.

8. She supports education.

“Don’t ever make the mistake that you’re a dumb blonde or a pushover,” she told Britain’s Mail on Sunday. "I was a grade-A student and I went to a really top school in New York where the children of middle-class parents are expected to achieve at everything.

“I started piano at the age of four and I passed every grade with top marks. I wanted to be smart because I wanted to be able to control things. My career isn’t about other people’s ideas and decisions. It’s about my decisions, my vision, my inspirations. I listen to other people, but I’m smart enough to know what to take notice of. Never underestimate the importance of education.”

I hope that every teacher supports education and encourages every student to be their best. It is so easy to give up on some of them, but they're the ones who most need their education.

I do have just word of warning. As a performer, Lady Gaga can get by with things that teachers can't. Teachers must remember to keep their attire and language appropriate for the classroom. You can be cool and keep it clean at the same time.

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