“Toto… I don’t think we are in Kansas anymore.”

Remember that line?  We all do – and we’re sure we all feel that way from time to time – especially in the classroom.

In honor of the 80th Anniversary of Wizard of Oz, here are 3 Oz-inspired teacher tips to get your bunch to listen up and focus.

Teacher Tips #1 – Never leave home without your powers.

Kids love positive reinforcement and if you use your powers for good, you know… like Glenda… you’ll win over a lot more of your munchkins. While it can be tempting to offer tough love when you’ve tried everything else; remember it’s the kids who are least focused and most combative that need positivity. Often times, more than any other kid in your class. So… be positive. You may be the only positive force in their life. Never forget your powers. They won’t.

Teacher Tips #2 – Don’t forget buddies.

Ah, Oz… how on earth would Dorothy have made it through without her buddies?

Some teachers loathe buddy systems because they inspire a lot of talking. Typically, that talking is not about the class lesson but they’re simply socializing. While we usually see that as a frustrating thing in class, a buddy system, when worked properly, can work. It’s ok to set firm boundaries but don’t forget to not be too overbearing.

When your kids are free to enjoy a lesson more… they’ll take it in better. Give them plenty of time to interact with their group or partner. Otherwise, there’s no point in getting the kids to collaborate.  In the end, both you and your class will benefit from the buddy system. Kids who are not understanding the lesson may feel much less intimidated when they can learn it with another student. And you’ll be able to repeat Teacher Tip #1 by rewarding those who help others with positive reinforcement.

Teacher Tips #3 – The Wizard didn’t know everything.

Ever feel like the man or woman behind the curtain? Sometimes we just don’t know what to do when things are going array. Consider a class switch for a month. We’ve even seen teacher’s assistants or aides switch classrooms in an effort to change up the scenery.

Here are a few neuroscience tips that can help make a big difference.  Similar to “writer’s block” – when you change your normal daily habits – it can unlock bursts of creativity and engagement that may have otherwise been dormant. Synapses will awaken and fire differently – to your benefit.

We recommend you try this and see for yourself, then suggest your students to try them.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at their change in behavior and your burst of energy that comes from it.

Try this for 7 Days:

  • Brush your teeth: Use your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth each morning and night for 2 minutes. Then finish off and brush properly.
  • Go to Sleep: Switch your sleep habit. Place your head at the foot of the bed and go to sleep like this for one week.

Sometimes seeing things through another’s eyes – or simply gaining a new perspective – can give you both a fresh look at a subject or problem. You’ll learn from your students and they will learn from you. Win/win.

Some days will feel like everything’s going along smoothly. Other days? They will feel like the tornado scene where witches fly past your window and your little dog is stolen by a really crabby old lady. For days like that, when focus is far away and you just want to hear the bell ring – remember this…

Tomorrow is a new day and every day is a good day when you cut yourself and your class a little slack when its needed. Education, much like the Yellow Brick Road, has its twists and turns. You just have to be courageous enough to keep walking along your path.


CoolSpeak is the nation’s leading youth engagement company. We inspire students, parents, and educators to put the motivation back into education. Contact us to talk about your programming and event needs.