Stand-Up Comedy and the Classroom

December 3, 2019

 

I’ve long been an ardent fan of stand-up comedians and their craft. I even wrote a children’s book about it.

What fascinates me about stand-up is that it provides a platform for taking something painful and extremely difficult and magically turns it into something entertaining, positive and relatable.

When do people get the chance to properly articulate the issues of their difficult childhoods, marriage breakdowns, bad career moves and parenting conundrums? You can try to open up at a party or at the office, but don’t expect a positive reception.

Unless you go to therapy, chances are, especially in today’s age, there isn’t a soul you can talk to outside of your family about issues that we all face such as rejection, disappointment and self-worth. We live in a shut-off society, where people let their issues fester or project them in negative ways such as trolling on social media or gossiping about others.

The classroom, like the stand-up stage, provides a unique opportunity for truthful conversation and genuine communal support. If done well, every child can go to school with the knowledge that their classroom is a safe space for sharing difficult experiences and gaining support from their peers. I have an initiative I call Classroom Conversation. It goes for about ten minutes and I provide a topic starter, such as Your Most Embarrassing Moment. It is a brilliant and non-threatening device for cultivating meaningful dialogue.

The stage is set. All you have to do is use it.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

The Importance of Humour in the Classroom

December 2, 2019

 

It is possible to enforce standards and command respect without losing the joy and excitement that should be the cornerstone of every successful classroom.

The challenges that our students feel are immense and creating an old-style, humourless and regimented classroom environment is not going to effectively develop trust or encourage your students to reach out.

A healthy sense of fun is a major priority for me. Everything from my classroom novel choices to the Maths and Literacy activities we engage in is designed to show children that fun and a good belly laugh is the right approach to tackling adversity.

 

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the hilarious new children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Kids are Not Reading: What are We going to Do About It?

November 28, 2019

 

A recent national report card finds reading proficiency for American fourth-grade and eighth-grade students are declining. So what do we do about it?

It’s not like this problem is new. Harry Potter comes out and many want to believe it will become a gateway drug that leads to bookworms everywhere. Of course, that was never going to be the case.

Some throw their hands up in the air and point to the destructive nature of gaming and the internet. Yes, it’s true that screens have made reading an even lesser priority for kids. But ebooks, books read on screens, is an exciting innovation that could encourage tech-savvy kids to give reading a go.

Personally, I think it’s up to teachers and parents to show kids the pleasures of reading. I think it’s destructive, especially in the early grades to have teachers who don’t like reading. parents of young kids who aren’t readers should consider the benefits of taking up reading if only to set a good example. I know you are busy, but trust me, it will reap rewards for you and your kids.

My students often site my own book, which I have been sharing with them during the writing, drafting and editing stages as a key reason for their enjoyment in reading. To be a part of the creation of a living. breathing novel was a thrill for them. Now they are invested in seeing to it that the book is successful beyond their classroom.

There’s nothing like a good example.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can download a free ebook copy by clicking here or buy a copy by clicking on this link.

6 Reasons to Install Cameras in Classrooms

November 24, 2019

 

I know I’m alone on this one.

My colleagues have let me know in no uncertain terms that I must have rocks in my head for supporting such an initiative, but it is my position that we would be better off having our lessons filmed by cctv cameras.

One interesting point from the recent Barb Williams story (video available above) is how brilliant it was that there were cameras in the hallways capturing her unacceptable treatment of the young child. What if there was no footage? How then, would we have drawn attention to her actions?

The following are the reasons for my position regarding cameras in the classroom:

1. Why shouldn’t improper actions by teachers be uncovered? If you are a good, or even an adequate teacher you have nothing to worry about, but if you are a danger to your students or you are inappropriate, you will be caught and sanctioned accordingly.

2. There are rising concerns over false reporting of teacher abuse. Cameras in the classrooms will deter students from making up or exaggerating stories and there will be proof for those that have a valid case. Documentary evidence will prevent the difficult situation of “his word against mine.”

3. This initiative will deter students from misbehaving and will also deter teachers from making poor decisions.

4. Some will talk about the need for privacy. Who needs privacy? Privacy from whom? This isn’t going to be streamed on the net, it is going to be available to superiors who will use it to protect those that are entitled to protection.

5. Teachers won’t like it, but our primary focus is the wellbeing of our students. When analysing the benefits of any education initiative, the impact it would have on students is paramount. If this will protect vulnerable students surely it’s worthwhile regardless of what teachers think.

6. This would be extremely effective in regards to children with disabilities and others that wouldn’t be able to properly convey a case of impropriety against a teacher.

I realise I am alone on this one but I can’t help but think of all the cases of abuse that we are unaware of because it goes unreported or cannot be proven.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

What Teachers Really Want for Christmas

November 24, 2019

Brilliant said by Polly Dunning:

.. What teachers and schools really want for Christmas is some real recognition and support.

Teachers in Australia work some of the longest hours in the profession across the OECD. And they’re getting longer. And we spend far longer on “adminsitrivia” and non-teaching tasks than our colleagues in other countries,  taking us out of the classrooms we love. We collect and collate endless data and samples to appease the rhetoric about “falling standards” that suggests our schools and our teachers are failing (we’re not, in fact, I see teachers and their students doing amazing things everywhere).

We work an average of about 45 hours per week, and it’s not uncommon for us to work more than 50, which the Australian Bureau of Statistics considers “very long hours”. Recent research also revealed that we experience both anxiety and depression at significantly higher rates than the general population. We work in poorly resourced schools and classrooms (which are also often boiling hot) and frequently use our own money to buy supplies for our classrooms and food for our students.

We love our job and we love our students. We love creating lessons and programs that get kids excited about learning, seeing the look on a child’s face when they finally “get it”, watching them grow into smart, funny, kind young people, sharing their joy and triumph, and picking them up when they stumble. It is our great privilege to be a part of your children’s lives. But we are exhausted, and the schools we work in are stretched thin.

So, this Christmas, if you want to do something great for your child’s school, why not contact the principal and ask them what they need? You could even get the whole class or year group of parents to go in on a gift. Could the school use some new sport equipment or some comfy bean bags for the library? Maybe a data projecto
Michael Grossman is the author of the children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

 

Why We Don’t Desperately Need More Male Teachers

November 24, 2019

 

There isn’t all that many male teachers operating at the Primary school level. Some think this a great shame and point to all the impressionable boys without male role-models.

It is true that there are a growing number of boys without male role-models. I don’t see this as merely an educational problem, but rather a societal problem. As a society, we have the responsibility for ensuring that fathers lift their game and take more responsibility for the raising of their own children.

As for teachers, I don’t want a male teacher to teach my son, I want a great teacher to teach him. An effective teacher is clearly a better result for any boy than merely a male teacher.

And the truth is that men do not seem to be attracted to teaching, especially at Primary level. Some say that the Government should incentivise men to take up teaching. I think this is a big mistake and amounts to a form of sexism. Firstly, you want your teachers to want to teach. This is an idealistic profession. Teachers choose to be educators for reasons other than money. I don’t think the result of men suddenly signing up only due to the extra incentives offered is good for developing quality in the profession. Worst still, that man is likely to take the spot of an idealistic female, who might desperately want to be a teacher. Do we really want to go down the path yet again of selecting men over women for gender reasons alone?

I am all for promoting the wonders of teaching to men. I am very much against offering incentives and Uni places to men over women for no reason other than their chromosomes.

 

Michael Grossman is the author of the children’s book, My Favourite Comedian. You can buy a copy by clicking on this link.

Why YouTube Shouldn’t Be Banned at Schools

November 22, 2019

You can understand why some schools ban YouTube. There’s enough content of vulgar and inappropriate nature on the platform to get educators quite considered. And even though there are filters available that can prevent children from clicking on potentially harmful content, some teachers feel far more comfortable not having to rely on them.

But schools that ban YouTube are missing out.

YouTube is one of the most exciting educationally transformational inventions I have ever seen.

YouTube has allowed me to restart my pilot light, showed me how to tie a Windsor knot, helped me create a fully functioning web site from scratch and taught me how to publicise my book.

I feel that we can, and should show our students how YouTube can help develop their skill sets and educate them in areas of difficulty.

As for the dangers. It’s called strict supervision, effective filters and an expectation of trust from your students.

Free e-Book For My Fellow Teachers

November 21, 2019

Let me introduce myself.

My name is Michael Grossman, and I am a dedicated teacher and author.

My years of teaching has helped me to gain expertise in helping raise children’s self-esteem as well as experience in other issues discussed in my book such as body image, childhood depression and dealing with adversity.

I aim to get kids to read. And not just any book (sorry Where’s Wally), but a book with relatable characters that starts meaningful conversations and leads to greater self-reflection.

And there’s not enough humour in the world. Our kids should be laughing constantly! There’s nothing better than good quality comedy!

I have decided to make the e-book version of my novel free of charge for a short time, specifically to allow teachers to read it and consider using it as a class novel. I have been using it as a 5th Grade literacy tool for the past few years and I am therefore confident teachers will love sharing this book with their students.

Follow this link to download your own book free of charge!

All feedback is much appreciated!

Body Image in Boys: The Untold Problem

November 18, 2019

Whilst we haven’t properly dealt with it, we have been fully aware of the issues related to girls and body image. What we may not be aware of, is how rampant body-image conditions such as depression and eating disorders are in our young boys.

Take this recent study by the University of Sydney:

 

25 per cent of all people with anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa are male.

40 per cent of people with a binge eating disorder are male.

42 per cent of males who have eating disorders identify as gay.

45 per cent of Western men are unhappy with their bodies in some way, rising from 15 per cent 25 years ago.

25 per cent of Australian men in a healthy weight range believe they’re fat.

3 per cent of Australian teenage boys use muscle-enhancing drugs like steroids.

 

One of the key themes in my soon to be released debut novel, My Favourite Comedian’, is body image in young boys. There aren’t many novels pitched at middle years readers that discuss this very serious issue. I recommend that parents and teachers read the novel with their children and discuss the importance of self-acceptance.

 

The Science of Choosing the Right Classroom Novel

November 18, 2019

 

Is there any challenge greater for a classroom literacy teacher than choosing a classroom novel?

Especially in today’s times when kids are turning off reading in preference for everything but.

Some of your students need a book that will stimulate them and others need a book that will not go over their head. Some require a page-turning thriller, others need a toilet humour laden comedy.

If you go straight to the bestsellers or award winners you are confronted with another issue. Those books have all been made into big studio Hollywood movies. This doesn’t faze some teachers. They like the fact they can use up a few lessons up watching the film after completing the book. I hate it. There is nothing worse than introducing a book that some kids have read and an overwhelming majority know it based on the movie’s inferior depiction of the story and central themes.

When I sat down to write my forthcoming debut novel, My Favourite Comedian, I was very mindful about the need to provide something for all types of readers.

I will be making the ebook version of the book free for teachers for a period after I launch it. Hopefully, it makes the overwhelming task of choosing a class novel a little bit easier.


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