Thomas McGregor

a polymathic mind geared toward innovation and ultimately sufficient methodologies. Ideas? Let's Talk!
Thomas McGregor has written 169 posts for mind polymathic

5 Unconventional Ways to Teach

I feel as though teachers feel like they are spinning their educating wheels when it comes to their style in the classroom. Do you feel this way sometimes? Do you feel as though your way of teaching was brought about by others? Do you not feel as though you don’t have an original style of teaching? If this is true for you then this article is for you… I will outline the 5 Unconventional Ways to Teach giving you ideas for creating your own style of teaching.

  1. Audio Teaching: Teaching Through Voice / Song / Music Sometimes straight facts can be uninteresting and void of keeping the attention of students. Let’s face it, facts by themselves on a sheet of paper are a kind-of boring. With audio teaching you can use the gift of sound to bring the facts to life. By using your voice effectively or by turning the information into a song, your students will never forget the information due to your unconventional approach.
  2. Real-Life Teaching: Teaching with Real-Life Examples This can be a very fun one to implement. You can use this technique in combination with people of your community. If you are talking about fire safety, bring in a fireman and take your students out to see the fire truck in action. By showing them real-life application their view of the information with widen and become more concrete in their minds.
  3. Teaching by Teaching: The Art of Learning by Teaching Others This is one of my personal favorites because I believe it to work the best. When you get your students working together by teaching each other there is a sense of deeper learning due to having to really know what they know in order to teach it to others. Split your students up into groups, then have them teach each other something that they observed when they were learning about that subject. This will deepen their understand of both, the information at hand and of what you do as a teacher.
  4. Teaching by Strengths: Highlighting What Works Best What you will do in this style is find the strengths of each student and use them to best demonstrate a point in the lesson. This does two things; 1. You will build confidence in the students by focusing on an area they excel and 2. You will teach them that there is nothing wrong with being proud of what they can do well. For example, if a student can draw really well, have him draw a detailed image of something associated in your subject. If a student can sing really well, have them write a song about the subject you are working on. This is such a powerful style to implement. The changes you will see in classroom dynamic will astonish you.
  5. Teaching by Doing: Leaders Go First As a teacher you are a leader. Therefore, you must go first. You must take the first step, risk, and responsibility. By doing this you show your students that you are willing to vouch for them and their education. Show by example by doing the process before you ask them to do so. If something seems “reach for the stars” hard for them then, do it first – many times – and show them that even teachers make mistakes and are human. By showing your humanity within this style, you will demystify the “teacher-student” paradigm and allow for an equality to arise. This equality will enable the emotional centers of the students in a way that will allow them to come to you as a friend versus an authority figure. This is the ultimate in a student-teacher relationship.

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Why Teaching Timing is Everything

I believe that how things are timed is very important for the success of any venture in life. Timing eludes to the intersection of two events or people at a particular moment. These types of intersections only happen as a result of synchronicities that are beyond our current understanding. However, there are some aspects of timing that we can have control over. The main being that we are prepared as much as possible. Because we never know when we might need a tool that we currently don’t have. Once we acquire the tools that we don’t need, we then realize that we need them at a later time. Time, at his point, won’t be an issue.

Why Teaching Timing is Everything 

This is a good question… Why IS timing important? Time is important because not every student is ready to learn what you have to teach at the time you are teaching it. If you have a curriculum to stick to this might seem like a concept that doesn’t apply to you. This simply isn’t true. Time is more important in your case because your only task is to teach the information in on school year that is allotted to you in the curriculum. Do you really need to teach it in the order they give it? No, especially since the order you have might not work for every student you are teaching. The question that follows is in how you accommodate each student in the classroom so that your timing works well? The answer is simple; you become so acquainted with your students that you are able to group them together in learning speeds. Once you have them in metaphorical “groups” on a list in your desk, placing them in categories so you can see how to address those that need more help and those that excel. By focusing on the timing of when you give educating you will be able to give attention where is needed and where it’s. As you can see, timing is more of a focusing tool above anything else. When you focus on the timing of how you educate, you allow yourself some flexibility and freedom to support your students in the current way. Timing what you teach and when you teach it will offer more satisfying results for your students.

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3 Pieces of Teaching Advice to Live By

Isn’t it amazing that we are able to positively influence our lives through teaching and, positively influence teaching through our lives? We are all individual with unique perspectives on world, so we are able to influence and be influenced through the journey of educating others. The key is to be open to these changes and allow for them to shape new ways of thinking and seeing the world. As a result we find truths that transfer from classroom to personal life. 

  1. Patience: Being a teacher requires that you have a generous amount of patience. Patience is defined as having the tolerance of enduring suffering without acting in anger. When you come to terms with a solid foundation of patience in the classroom, your emotions will stay in check. Patience takes practice and means you will need to take a moment before reacting to a situation. As educators, events are going to occur that are out of our control. These situations can cause stress and anxiety if we don’t implement patience. This deep element of patience can be transferred to our every day life simply. When the drive cuts you off on your way to the store, you can implement patience with yourself as to not get automatically mad. When the gas station clerk takes long to give you back your change, you can act in patience as to not stress you or him out by trying to rush him. Patience is very much needed in this day. Use as a muscle and see the changes in your life occur.
  2. Inspiration: Inspiration appears when we are least ready. This is because implementing inspiration is hard due to the over thinking we do. This is why we need to remain open to inspirational situations that may pop up at a moments notice. This could be from something that a student says. It could be something a parent says about how well you are teaching. No matter the situation, we must be ready and willing to invite inspiration into our lives. As a by-product, we should strive to give inspirational thoughts and ideas to others that grace us in our lives. Family, friends and, even strangers can benefit from some encouraging thoughts now and then. Let us make it a practice to have this occur more often than we currently do.
  3. Vision: We all know how important it is to hold a solid and clear vision for our students. A vision can offer a clear sense of where we are taking them and, most importantly, seeing where they might end their journey with us. Having this vision is incredibly empowering. The vision gives us a sense of control over how we impact the students under our care. It should, because it does. Just as vision establishes empowering control for our students, so can it for our lives. We must take action to see a large vision for our lives so that we too can act in accordance with a wider impact of our community. The key here is to allow for our ultimate vision to take shape regardless of what takes hold in our mind. It might seem crazy, but all large visions are. Keep your vision strong and intact. Allow no one tell you that it can’t be done or that you are stupid. You aren’t. You have a vision and, you will win!

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8 Ways Teaching Will Make You a Better Person

Wouldn’t you like to be a better person? I truly believe that all educators have an “improvement bone” that keeps them improving the way they operate. As teachers, we strive to be better communicators, role models and inspirations. Below I will reveal 8 ways teaching will make you an EVEN better person. Keep reading …

  1. Understanding: When you teach you learn that you need to be more understand of personal differences if you want to be successful. Teaching will refine and shine your rough edges to make you better at understanding the perspectives of others.
  2. Creative: Teaching children, especially, will keep your mind moving and active. What this does is require you to be creative more often than the non-teaching individual. You will constantly be needed to come up with new ideas and activities to keep your students engaged and interested.
  3. Kindness: There is element of kindness that is needed when teaching. This element is essential to effectively transfer knowledge to your students. This softness relieves some tension and stress in the education process, allowing your students to learn with ease and flexibility.
  4. Ingenuity: Sometimes you won’t always have what you need at the moment that you need it. Because of this, you will need to create what you need out of what you have. This means you will need to keep your eyes open for situations that will stimulate ingenuity as so to create tools that better demonstrate what you are teaching.
  5. Organization: In order to be a fine educator you must be as organized as humanely possible. This is a major habit of mine. I enjoy nothing more than spending a Sunday afternoon organizing lesson plans, paperwork and assignments. Organization is required if you want to run a fluid classroom.
  6. Advancement: The teaching profession will enable you situations to advance as a teacher. You will be endowed with the best of educational materials, publications and resources. Even if you don’t think that you have much at your disposal, there is always someone that is willing to aid you in your professional development. Ask questions of parents, students and peers in order to make your teaching even better. 
  7. Contribution: By being a teacher you have a unique opportunity to contribute to the community around you. Take your students into the community and get them evolved with the engagement that comes along with human connection. Allow for your students to create ideas that allow them to exchange conversation and interaction with people they’ve never met. This will give you a huge sense of accomplishment, with a feeling of gratitude that you are a teacher.
  8. Legacy: Teaching, above all, will give you a sense of how you will impact the world. You will be able to see the impact you are making, knowing that you are leaving a legacy that has positively impacted the future. This feeling will put you at ease as you contemplate the ideas you have bestowed in your students.

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How to Easily Build a Powerful Lesson By Engaging

“Your level of engagement will determine the level of student success.” -Thomas McGregor

Have you ever considered that by being an “over-the-top” teacher could completely revolutionize the success of your students? Many teachers tell me that being over the top is not their style or, acting as such makes them feel uncomfortable. Regardless, we want to be an amazing teacher, right? Well, then we need to suck it up and act in a way that better impacts our students. We need to ENGAGE!

The key to engaging your students is simple; you must gain their attention at all costs. This might mean you will need to step outside your comfort zone. This might mean that you will need to change the way you are doing. This may mean you will need to know your students better. The idea here is to gain their attention by doing whatever it takes to do so. In order to fully engage them in the lesson you will need to pull them out of their world and into yours. This means you will need to first get their attention, create a world, and then pull them into it. What this does creates is an atmosphere that stimulates submersion learning. Your students will be dropped into the information and become apart of the learning process, versus, learning from a distance.

As a communicator, you will need to communicate via action instead of the words you are used to using. You will need to focus your entire attention on sending positive messages to your students through your actions and physical pictures you paint with your movements. Think in terms of a silent actor, nothing but his movements to dictate the message you wish to impart. If you pretend that you have no words to use, only your action, you will be required to show by example and the very best example possible. Pay close attention to nuances that change moment to moment that will greater increase the impact of your presentation. This will be your greatest tool when engaging your students.

How to Build a Powerful Lesson

  1. Act out your point
  2. Involve a student in the story
  3. Create an engaging environment
  4. Drop words and use movements
  5. Change environments
  6. Bring in other professional
  7. Community involvement
  8. Paint images with movements
  9. Play games
  10. Select close interests
  11. Increase laughter and fun
  12. Involvement in lesson creation

You can take any of these ideas and apply them in your teaching today! By engaging your students more you will see a drastic increase in knowledge retention and participation. Students don’t like to be talked at. They enjoy moving and grooving with the new information. If given the choice, they would much rather act out the new information versus sitting there and listening to you talk about it. Obviously, there will be a massive difference in retention and information recall because you involved their physiology. When you engage their physiology you make their nervous system in a way that will greater impact their memory system. When activated, the nervous system will make it so your students will never forget what they’ve learned. Now, THAT is engagement.

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When We Realize We’ve Let the Arts Down

After my performance yesterday at the 3rd Annual Eudora Charity Event I met this 87 year old beauty of a soul that went on to tell me that both her and her mother played violin. After my performance yesterday at the 3rd Annual Eudora Charity Event I met this 87 year old beauty of a soul that went on to tell me that both her and her mother played violin. She had played violin from early on, her brother trumpet, and her mom piano and teaching violin. She told me stories of when they would get together in the evenings as a family and play music together. They would laugh, dance and make up music. The joy in the household was so infectious, in fact, that neighbors would often pop in to join in with the evening festivities. As a result, relationships and ties to the community were extremely tight. They could rely on each other to be entertained and musically stimulated. “We did away with our radio when I was 13 because we never used it.” She went on to tell me. “My mother bought music books with the money she made from selling the radio.”

How times have changed. And, without soap-boxing, tainting this magnificent story of music in the home, I will say this; does your current home entertainment fulfill you past it’s expiration date ? You see, light shimmered in the eyes of a woman that lived these events eight decades ago. That, my friend, is entertainment that fulfills past the expiration date. It fulfills because of deep connection. The connection we all search for with each other.

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The Real Problems You Should Look for in a Lesson

“The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”

-Mark Van Doren

Good day and welcome!

I am glad you have decided to join me today. First, I have a question for you; why do you teach? We can all agree that teaching brings great satisfaction and inspiration to our lives. However, knowing our inner-most motives are crucial for our overall lifetime impact. You see, your answer to my question should be that you want to make a large positive impact. That’s why we are educators, no? We strive to make a positive impact and to change the world, one child at a time. This can be accomplished only when we have located the real problems in our lessons. If you are wondering, here they are:

The Real Problems You Should Look for in a Lesson

  1. A hyper focus on things out of our control: What this means is that we tend to focus on situations and elements that arise in the classroom in that we have no control over. What this does is create stress and, as a result, combative behavior by our students. This does not create an environment that sets up a teacher for a life-long journey of impact. This can be cleared by focusing on the positive in a situation and what can be controlled.
  2. Lack of support for natural thinking: When I say, “natural thinking” I am eluding to the natural thinking that occurs when children think like children. This typically means unconventional and outside the box thinking. We need to ensure that we are supporting these behaviors in a way that propels the student to continue in this way.
  3. More talking than listening: As teachers we want to impart our passion and information to our students. Part of our drive is in that enthusiasm to impart knowledge. Ultimately, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. The problem is when we listen less we tend know less about how we can benefit the student. By attempting to tell them all the knowledge we know we may actually be letting them down. If we are wanting to make the largest impact possible we must take time to listen to what they have to say. By listening we can learn how they think, challenges they are having and, the one thing the want to achieve.

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8 Hurdles Students Commonly Face

Students live complicated lives. Sometimes as adults we tend to overlook this because we think that just because they are kids that their lives are less complicated. This is simply not true. The truth is that the lives of young people are internally complicated more than externally. This means that they are trying to find out who they are and dealing with changes in their emotional states. This can hinder their growth and their ability to study.

8 Hurdles Students Commonly Face

  1. Not being understood by teachers and authority figures.
  2. Not having enough help in challenge areas.
  3. Having problems communicating with teachers and other students.
  4. Lack of support from family and friends.
  5. Peer pressure to forego studying for other activities.
  6. Emotional changes that happen without notice.
  7. Feeling as though no one is on their side.
  8. Misinterpreting information and emotional signals from adults.

As role models we need to keep forefront in our minds these 8 hurdles that students go through on a daily basis. We must remember that these aren’t things that they can turn off or turn on. Each student is different and will be going through different stages of the internal roller coaster at any given time during different parts of the day. This will all depend on how they have been influenced leading up to that point. Therefore, our duty as teachers is to positively influence them in such a way that they know that someone is on their team and pulling for their success

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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Improvising

I think we can all agree that improvisation has it pros and cons. Naturally we can also all agree that there are some misconceptions regarding improvisation and how to go about using it for creative expression. In this brief article I will outline the pros and cons of improvisation as well as the misconceptions . My goal is that you walk away with a better understanding of how improvisation is used in music and how you can start using it today.

PRO: You will learn more about your instrument as a result of improvisational application.

CON: You may have to unlearn rigid techniques that are set in particular pattern forms.

MISCONCEPTION: Improvisation is associated with bad or unsophisticated technique.


PRO: You will learn more about music composition.

CON: Improvisation is free-flowing and not confined by traditional compositional rules.

MISCONCEPTION: There is a misconception that you need to know a lot of musical theory in order to improvise. This is a major misconception.

PRO: Improvisation gives you more chances to play with a group of people.

CON: Improvisation can sometimes distract those that aren’t used to hearing it or, that have never attempted to improvise.

MISCONCEPTION: Improvisation is intellection and understood by musicians only.

PRO: You will be more enabled to be  uniquely creative.

CON: Improvisors can sometimes detour far enough from a melody in which it is no longer recognizable.

MISCONCEPTION: Improvisation is playing random notes.


PRO: Improvisation gives you strength to take risks and experiment.

CON: Improvisors can sometimes get stuck in notational ruts or, musical “isms.”

MISCONCEPTION: Improvisation is hard and only for professionals.

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The Best Teaching Advice You’re Not Taking


We all need a mentor in order to grow and develop. This is something I think we forget as teachers because we are constantly concerned with being the mentor. When I got a teaching mentor I realized the immense value he offered both, professional and artistically. As a result, I received extremely valuable advice from him one afternoon when he spoke the following words:

“If you want to have students that achieve, you must first engage with them.”

There are many gems of wisdom in this statement but, I’m going to focus in on the last part for the purpose of this article because I believe it to be the best teaching advice I have ever received.

The Best Teaching Advice You’re Not Taking

Engage WITH Your Students

Students learn best when they’re participating in engaged-learning. Moreover, students remember most the longest when they’re engaged WITH the teacher. This is called; “Full Immersion Learning” What this means is that the student forgets that he is learning and resides in experiencing. Just think, if you were back in your old school, do you remember the teacher that stood at the front and talked at the class or do you remember the ones who had you out of your seat, moving with interactive learning? You see, age doesn’t matter when you apply engaged-learning. When you get the student engaged you allow for learning to occur in a way that submerses the student INTO the information. This completely changes the game of learning into a game of learning.


 SIX ways to engage your students

  1. Mental – intellectual
  2. Physical – neurological
  3. Emotional – psychological
  4. Action – physiological
  5. Results – actualizing
  6. Guidance – interaction 

Each way present a way that you can submerge your student in the information they are learning. The key focus for you as teacher is to ensure that your student forgets that he is learning via as much submersion as much as possible. This can be accomplished by acting out stories, asking them to “forget what we are working on,” and by allowing them to create an atmosphere around the new information. By doing this you are doing your students the ultimate service, one they will never forget.

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