Magic in the Classroom

Hi! I want to talk about Magic.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time defending what I see as Magic. I’m not talking about casting spells or creating potions. My brand of Magic is doing small things, or working in certain mindsets, that have an inordinately powerful effect.

One incredibly powerful bit of Magic, perhaps the closest to stage magic, is the use of surprise, randomness, and chance with students. When we open ourselves to chance, when we open ourselves to surprise, so many good things happen. Our attention is greater, we prick up our ears. We want to understand. We want to connect the dots and draw conclusions. Now, you can go overboard engineering surprises for students. It can be fun, it can be addictive, even, but we know that with addiction, you have to amp things up, you always need to go bigger. You’re going to drain your energy if you worry too much about engineering the surprise.

It’s a far better bang for you buck to be open to using chance with your students, to using randomness, and to skate across the ice of, “we’re not really sure what will happen.” When you carry your kids through moments of chance, they will naturally try to figure it out, they will be drawn to understand how it all works. Learning to be open in this way is a super effective to give your student a sense of Magic. Start small, and build your confidence in the surprising face of the unknown.

I’ll be back with more talk of Magic at a later date. Get out there, and open yourself — and your classroom — to the magic of surprise and randomness!

I teach kids, snuggle with cats (mine) and dogs (when I can). I eat plants, draw pictures, ride bikes, and I like to read and write. @MagicPantsJones on social.