My sister Shannon is a school teacher. She loves working with her students on complex topics, and watching as they become successful at areas that previously baffled them. She tells me that it's amazing what small things can really affect a student's ability to learn.
We were on the phone this weekend, and she gave me the perfect example of a small change that made a huge difference in how easy it is to teach her students. Her school underwent some minor renovations to its heating system during the summer. So while Shannon's classroom looked the same when she returned to teaching in September, it suddenly felt much warmer.
As a result, Shannon's classroom went from being pleasantly crisp to uncomfortably hot. During the first few weeks of the school year, my sister told me that her students struggled to stay awake during even her most dynamic lessons, and by the end of the day, even she was exhausted because of the draining heat. Like in many schools, Shannon's classroom has safety windows that only open about four inches, so she couldn't get much fresh air.
But last Monday, Shannon decided that she would try to do something about the high temperatures that were putting all of her students to sleep. She went out and bought a couple of quiet-running oscillating electric fans for her classroom.
She told me that the difference was fantastic. Where her students were previously staring at her from low in their desks with glazed over eyes, they were now suddenly sitting up, completely engaged in her lively teaching. She told me that she even noticed that her kids got higher scores on Friday's reading quiz. Shannon said that she might not ever teach without an electric fan again.