Dr. Richard Overfelt is a retired principal, but at 87 years old, he still hasn’t left the classroom behind.
His students are all teachers, and his lesson is simple: don’t take yourselves too seriously.
He teaches a graduate class at Truman State University to help teachers learn how to connect with their students rather than just focusing on test scores. Too many school districts put pressure on teachers to raise their student’s grades instead of letting teachers give meaningful lessons. The education system rewards students who are able to memorize facts instead of students who care about their futures, and Overfelt is helping teachers do both. He encourages teachers to find unique ways to teach their lessons while having fun. Many of his students confess that they were ready to give up teaching altogether when their classrooms became boring and lifeless. Walking into a room to bored students who were only meant to memorize facts for standardized tests was taking away their love of teaching.
One teacher found that creating songs to go along with the lessons she taught engaged her students and made each day fun. Another focused on relating to each child and making her classroom a place where kids could share their daily lives while studying English Language Arts.
When kids think of learning as a game, as something fun, their scores will raise in return. He hopes that more teachers will embrace their silliness, and his willingness to prove it by wearing crazy costumes or playing instruments as he teaches.
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