Being interested makes one interesting. Being energetic is contagious—so is being clearly miserable and cranky. Sixty eyeballs expect to see a leader strengthen skills that translate into university and professional success, not a frustrated, fatigued, and fascist adult droning on through the same lesson and weak PowerPoint they have used for a decade.
It’s part of an educator’s job to know about, ask about, and continuously connect to students’ lives via extra curricular clubs, teams, accomplishments, and interests. Once I have established myself as a teacher who is legitimately curious about students’ overall growth as young adults (not just as students in ELA class) I both strengthen rapport and inevitably have students more interested in the class I lead them through. I also have to be a pleasant and charismatic person; this job is to some degree about being entertaining in the context of our subject area. I can’t simply show up, point at a whiteboard, and expect everyone to latch on to my fascinating lecture. I have to prove our purpose as a valuable one first–to explain the why–and show my enthusiasm as we make progress together–taking special note of students’ individual milestones and recognizing them accordingly with celebrations and mentions.
The difference also lies in speaking students’ language when appropriate and welcoming their expression in the context of our studies (yes, I pepper in the youth’s slang, and, yes, I do so with a straight face because it’s funnier to them that way–if they’re laughing, they’re listening). When students feel valued, safe, and trust me to give them useful tools in life I have created buy-in and increased motivation and interest in our work together. Ultimately, the excitement of a course is almost entirely in the hands of the educator in question and it’s my job to stimulate this excitement with magnetic personality, intellectual competence, and pedagogic wherewithal. If successful, the empowerment of young adults that will tactfully manage our nation’s future will result.