One of the important things about being a teacher is sticking to a plan. One hard lesson that I’ve learned is that if you don’t have a plan for your class on any given day, they will have a plan for you. And the class’ plan is likely to be a far less useful one than what you can cook up. Planning your class isn’t just a matter of the calendar, it comes down to planning hour-to-hour. I hope that it is obvious that you shouldn’t script yourself too much, or you will drive yourself crazy trying to follow it, and frankly such a class would be robotic and stilted. Think about sitting through someone reading a powerpoint presentation at you… By the way, throw out all of your powerpoint presentations, unless you like having classwide epidemics of narcolepsy.
Besides, after a while you get very good at being able to plan classes with minimal direction.
But it is fun to go off on a tangent sometimes. Both for the teacher and for the class. Myself, I have a velcro-brain: some very weird stuff sticks to it. Strange bits of trivia, mathematical history and fun mathematical puzzles, bad math jokes… all of these are fair game. I even shared one of my “dirty” (at least scatological) math jokes in class the other day. You may have heard it:
Q: What does a mathematician do when he gets constipated?
A: What he always does, he’ll sit down and work it out with a pencil.
Of course, there is also the one about “What is long and hard and will keep you up all night…” Nevermind.
Seriously, having fun in class keeps a good atmosphere for learning, and going “off trail” can be good sometimes. The best way to be interesting is to be interested in something, and the best way to keep your class fun is to have fun in class.
P.S. I seem to have rather a lot of subscribers from Poland. Like more than half… I had to ask myself, really? Please post a comment if you really are a subscriber. If you don’t, I may decide that you may just be a bot who slipped through my spam filter, and I will delete you.