Well, I finally finished the very last Harry Potter. I am a little depressed, but what a great read. These books have been with me ever since I started teaching. It is hard to believe the last one has been written and I will spend no more summer evenings waiting in line at Barnes & Noble with former students.
The first time I picked up a Harry Potter book was as a substitute teacher. I was on a long-term assignment in a 4th grade class and the teacher had me read the book to the class as a way to calm them down after lunch. I will never forget how mesmerized the kids were when I would read to them…and I am pretty sure it wasn’t because of my oral reading skills. Very soon I found myself wanting to read more than the alloted 15 minutes. I could have read all afternoon!
Each time I have read one of the books or watched one of the movies I have always thought to myself, “Gosh, I wish I taught at Hogwarts.” All of the students seem genuinely interested in their education and see value in the skills they are learning. Granted, like real world students some classes are more interesting to them than others, but in the end I don’t really remember any students dreading the trip to school. Perhaps this is because rather than teaching obscure standards which make no sense to the students instructors are teaching skills and information which the students see as useful. Of course, it would help too if I could make books magically float towards my students like Delores Umbridge did in the Order of the Phoenix.
Magic….hmm…I wish I had some. Wait. Maybe I do. Granted I don’t have a wand or really cool sounding enchantments, but I do have a laptop, projector, Interwrite Pad, and a document camera. Dorky, but they do provide some magic. It is amazing how the same lesson on balancing chemical equations is that much more interesting with a YouTube video clip and practice problems using a document camera. My kids were hooked on our wiki Roller Coaster Project and all of them have reported enjoying the podcasting we did. Perhaps I do teach at Hogwarts and I just didn’t realize it. Now I just have to figure out how make those standards look much more appetizing to an 8th grader….