Here we are now– Entertain us!!!

Essential Question:  How do we keep our lessons engaging? Does innovation play a part in this?

Before I was blessed with my own children, I had the opportunity of working at a local daycare.  One little girl, in particular, was having a lot of separation anxiety.  She continually asked us every 5 minutes when her mom was going come and pick her up.  My coworker and I assured her that when she was having fun, her mom would be here before she knew it.  However, she couldn’t have fun if she kept asking if her mom was coming yet.  Eventually, she got the message.  Every 15 minutes, in the saddest voice possible, she would ask, “Am I having fun now?”  Which we would promptly answer, “Yes, honey.  You’re having a lot of fun.”

… If only it was really that simple.  We weren’t even kidding ourselves.  We were just trying to get the child to quit reminding us to look at the clock and mess with the time paradox.  However, engagement goes far beyond just passing time.  Stacy Hurst discussed the different levels of engagement, and too often, students endure ritual or even passive compliance.  They’re not hearing or remembering any of the learning.  She also offers some suggestions in increasing engagement in her article.  Involving movement and student processing time does wonderings in getting the student authentically engaged.

Piquing the students curiosities and interests also go a long way to creating engagement.  Burgess (2012) shared anecdotes about how he was the crazy teacher; posting intriguing signs and making the students wonder what he was going to do next.  There are only two graduation speeches I have ever remembered.  The first one used the jar with stones, gravel, and sand to illustrate how to manage your time… unfortunately I don’t remember the specifics of what represented what.  The most memorable speech, however, was a valedictorian who said he knew that no one was going to remember what he was going say, so he was going to shave his head at the podium instead.  Sure enough, I can still conjure up that exact same image how it happened.  Hopefully we don’t have to do through such extreme lengths in order to engage our students, but the concept still resounds.

I think Nirvana said it best in their song Smells Like Teen Spirit, “Here we are now, entertain us!”  So true.  It is difficult to take the modern student and convince them that being engaged in the classroom is to their best interests.  Paying attention to entertainment is so much easier than disciplining yourself to pay attention to something!  Innovation is extremely key.  But that’s not to put it all solely in the educator’s corner.  Having students participate in the innovation is an excellent idea!  Not only do they gain ownership of the learning, but they access a different part of their learning minds when they have to think creatively about their own learning.

We live in an innovative world.  That innovation may not be as wide-spread as it could be, but there are amazing things taking place.  The modern student is adapting, but it’s not always in the ways that the education system would like it to.  This video may have been shared before.  It’s even beginning to be a bit outdated itself (being made in 2007), but it still rings true.  Keeping a flexible and intuitive perspective is important in this profession.

A vision of Students Today



Burgess, D. (2012). Teacher like a pirate.  San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.

Cobain, K., Novoselic, K., Grohl, D. (1991). Smells like teen spirit. [Recorded by Nirvana]. On Nevermind. Van Nuys, CA.

Hurst, S. (2013). Seven ways to increase student engagement in the classroom.  Reading Horizons.  Accessed at

Wesch, M. (2007). A vision of students today. Accessed on YouTube at



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6 responses to “Here we are now– Entertain us!!!

  1. Tiffany,
    Nice post. My question is, are we really suppose to be entertainment? I know it is easier to teach a lesson when students are engaged, but sometimes I wish there was a trick to getting them internally motivated.

    • Hello All,

      Thomas, I understand your point…however, I don’t quite see it as entertainment (even though it is, to some extent). I see it as making learning accessible to students who may not have had access in the past. If I can, through my own enthusiasm, help them find enthusiasm of their own, I want to! Then I can set a challenge, support them through achieving to that challenge, and at that point, the internal motivation may spur them to do more. We can’t expect everyone to be internally motivated about everything; however, I do think we can provide multiple entry points to learning (and I think passion and fun is one of those entry points) and once we’ve led the student to water, we can know we’ve done our brain-based best to help them learn!

      Very good questions and thoughts here!

  2. It is possible I should have watched that clip before posting it. I thought it was the Judy Garland version…Digital footprint lesson here.

  3. Edited, and censored! Haha! Sorry it took me so long to catch things up!

  4. Thomas does make a valid point. And while no, entertainment is NOT the main point, it’s a means to an end. YES, absolutely we want students to develop their own intrinsic motivation. However, that is a modeled aspect that doesn’t necessarily come naturally. There’s the peer pressure of culture to contend with. I recently started playing roller derby, and one of the most freeing aspects is that I can be who I want to be! I have an alter ego that allows me to confidently run around in shorty-shorts, wear extravagant make-up, and meet my challengers head on. I no longer care what anyone thinks because I know who I am, and I know what I’m capable. THAT’S the ideal that I want to bring to my students (not so much the shorty-shorts and brawling, but the freedom of self). When my students identify themselves as learners, and know what they are capable of– the sky is the limit. And on the plus side, when the teacher is having fun, it makes things a lot easier.

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