On Monday nights I am often up way past my bedtime, and it’s not because I’m working … It’s because I am secretly a huge “Bachelor” fan! Anyone else?
The show is totally cheesy and ridiculous, but it’s also fabulous. And honestly, I think I’ve always enjoyed it so much because it gave me a laugh and made work life disappear for an hour. That is, until I had a sudden epiphany.
In my opinion, the most important thing a teacher can do to improve learning outcomes is create more engaging lessons.
Engaged students are students who learn. But the problem is, teachers juggle a ton of priorities, and creating engaging lessons often feels overwhelming. Honestly, sometimes they do take a lot of time to plan, but sometimes, all you need is a simple mindset shift to transform your lessons from rigid and dull to highly engaging.
And this is where “The Bachelor” comes in. As I was watching a rerun of the show the other day, I realized just how much teachers can learn from it about how to foster student buy-in and engagement. I mean, there’s a reason the show has over 6 million fans. They’re doing something right when it comes to hooking their audience!
Let’s dive into the strategy behind the show so you can engage your students in the same way that Chris Harrison captivates his audience when he announces (at every single ceremony) “This is going to be the MOST dramatic rose ceremony ever.”
In my opinion, the most important thing a teacher can do to improve learning outcomes is create more engaging lessons.– Jessica Cannata, EB Academics
1. DON’T TAKE YOURSELF SO SERIOUSLY
Every season on the show the contestants are at some point challenged to do something silly in front of the bachelor, like write and sing an original song, or choreograph a dance and perform it. Now, I would probably be the girl sent home because I’d be too worried about making a fool of myself to participate, but the thing is, the bachelor doesn’t really care if the contestant is a good singer or dancer. What they care about is seeing whether or not the person can go with the flow, try something new, and have some fun.
It is the same with our students. They don’t care if we are perfect at every lesson. They just like it when we let our personality show, take risks, and have some fun.
I challenge you to consider how you might let loose a bit in your classroom. Does every lesson have to be so structured and serious? What if you looked at each standard and asked: Ok, how can we have some fun with this?
It might mean simply playing some music and grooving to the tunes a little while you walk around the classroom, beginning class with a cheesy pun, or challenging a student to a quick round of Pictionary at the end of the class. This simple mindset shift can completely transform a lesson, and often requires your adjusted attitude alone!
2. STRANGE GIMMICKS WORK
Let’s take a little stroll down “The Bachelor” memory lane to prove that strange gimmicks have serious power.
First up, Lindsay from Season 17 met bachelor, Sean Lowe, dressed in a wedding dress. She made it as far as runner up. JoJo from Season 20 greeted Ben Higgins for the first time while wearing a giant unicorn mask. She made it to runner up and then even became a bachelorette. Finally, in Season 24, Kiarra made quite an impression when she arrived at the show in luggage. When bachelor, Peter Weber, unzipped the suitcase she announced, “Wow, I’ve made it to my final destination.”
These women have some serious guts, but the point is, ridiculous gimmicks often work!
All of these contestants got noticed and captured the bachelor’s attention.
So, as teachers, let’s ask ourselves: What can we do to capture our students’ attention and get them engaged in the lesson?
- Maybe it’s dressing in a black robe and bringing in a gavel while introducing students to arguing claims and finding evidence.
- Maybe it’s cutting out an image of Shakespeare’s face and holding it up to your own as you parade around the room reciting a sonnet.
- Maybe it’s turning a figurative language review into a game of “Spoons.”
Sometimes all it takes is a gimmick to pull our kids in and hook them with the lesson. It doesn’t have to be crazy or time-consuming, but let’s learn a lesson from “The Bachelor” contestants, embrace our inner-weird, and get our students’ attention!
3. OFFER CHOICES
Whether it’s night one of the show and the bachelor has to decide which one or two girls to talk with, he’s on a group date, or it’s the rose ceremony, things always get interesting on “The Bachelor” when there are choices. They are truly the juiciest moments of the show for viewers.
Choice in the classroom also creates excitement and engagement among students, so we should always consider the ways in which we can incorporate choice into our curriculum.
Let go of control and rigidity.
Choose a focus standard, and then let students decide how to demonstrate their mastery of it. Use reading response boards or bingo boards so that students feel a sense of ownership over their learning. When having students answer essential questions for a Response to Literature, offer them several prompt choices. They will still create claims, find evidence, and justify them, but allowing them to be in charge of even a small part of the decision-making process will enhance engagement and learning.
4. USE CLIFFHANGERS AND HYPERBOLE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, Chris Harrison, the host of “The Bachelor,” is king of hyperbole and drama. He’s always making statements like, “We’ve never seen this before in 21 seasons of the show,” or “You’re never going to believe what happens next. We’ll find out next week in ‘After the final rose.’” Just like a cliffhanger in a book, those words hook the audience immediately.
What an easy tactic to implement in the classroom!
When you’re teaching amazing binge-worthy content, keep the momentum up! Tease it before you even start your lessons. Hang posters or pictures related to your next unit around the classroom a few days before you dive in to get students asking questions. Create a fun gallery walk with interesting photographs, excerpts, sound effects, or video clips. Provide students with a “case file” of evidence about your next novel and have them work in groups to uncover the premise of the book.
A little bit of hype can go a long way with middle schoolers!
Engaging lessons often boil down to your attitude going into them. Shake things up, crack a joke, and put yourself out there in your classroom. And anytime you feel intimidated or overwhelmed, sneak in a moment to yourself and watch an episode of “The Bachelor.” Your inspiration and courage will be reignited in no time!