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Book: LIVE FROM YOUR CLASS - Everything I Learned about Teaching, I Learned from Working at Saturday Night Live to Increase Student Engagement by Teaching to Change Lives by Jamie Mason Cohen

Book: LIVE FROM YOUR CLASS - Everything I Learned about Teaching, I Learned from Working at Saturday Night Live to Increase Student Engagement by Teaching to Change Lives by Jamie Mason Cohen

categories: Book, Non-Fiction, Teaching, How-To, Humour, Saturday Night Live, Memoir, Classroom Management, Learning Styles, Ted Education, Sir Ken Robinson, Education


Jamie Mason Cohen

Author Jamie Mason Cohenabout this book: The book is about how teachers can specifically bring more humour into their students' lives and their own classroom. Why? When you're laughing you're learning.

Some of the BENEFITS to teachers, workshop facilitators and leaders in any organization are:

• How to use counter-intuitive methods to capture students' attention within the first 60 seconds of any class.
• How to go from feeling burned out to energized in your classroom or working environment.
• How to add more humour in your classroom or work space through unconventional strategies backed by real data.
• How to create a space where young adults are inspired to learn and start projects ahead of time because they can't wait to investigate the subject.
• How to help students feel more connected to their peers and the class.
• How to contribute to learners feeling happier and more emotionally content while they significantly improve their grades.
• How to apply stories from your life in a compelling and relevant way to dramatically increase student engagement or to connect with their team.

What inspired me to write the book was my journey from working for Saturday Night Live in New York City to teaching in various school in Toronto and around the world. I thought I was successful. I was working behind the scenes for Saturday Night Live founder Lorne Michaels. I had access to this incredible world and worked in an environment with brilliant, creative minds. My father phoned me one day and said my grandmother was sick in Toronto so I booked a flight immediately home.

The day was September 11, 2001. As you know, I couldn't have gotten on that flight. It was LaGuardia Airport. 9:00 am. The next morning I ended up hitching a ride back to Toronto. I mourned my grandmother's loss after spending her last few hours with her and I came back to New York. I returned to the office and people were packing staplers and pens. I thought, 'What are they doing'? I walked up to my desk and there was a pink slip. A pink slip means you're laid off. After 9/11 New York and the rest of the world weren't laughing.

I asked myself, 'What am I going to do with my life?' What's next? I didn't realize it at the time but what it taught me later was, sometimes you have to let go of the life you think you want for the life that's waiting for you.

That point really hit home for me when I became a teacher. A few years later I was teaching in the Toronto District School Board and most of my students in this class were refugees. They were from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Congo and Sudan. On the last day of my grade 10 class, we had this beautiful potpourri of food from all over the world. Many of the students wrote me handwritten notes. One student in particular had a really hard times in terms of some of the content we were taking about in class. We stayed after school for months until he got it. This student, who I'll call Jacob, came up to me on the last day of school and said, "Sir, can I give you a note?" I read the note and it said, "Before your class, I felt dead inside, after your class, I feel alive." And at that moment, I felt successful.

The primary readers of my book are high school teachers. It took me 1.5 years to write it. I came up with the title because I wanted it to be catchy, integrate a Saturday Night Live reference as the book is about what I learned while working for the TV show in New York in various productions roles and applied to my decade-long teaching career. I also wanted the title and subtitle to reflect my focus on creating practical and easy-to-use humour-filled strategies any teacher could implement immediately to positively impact the quality of the learning environment.

I chose this particular cover because it doesn't take itself too seriously (through the title font choice) and the word bubble, yet gets across that this is a teaching book (through colour and the green board visual thematic design) about the teacher. I chose not to put myself on the cover because to be consistent with my title: LIVE FROM YOUR CLASS -- with the emphasis on "Your".

The hardest part of writing the book was in making sure that every point was relevant and backed up my data to support it. I started with my personal stories and teaching strategies but went much deeper by including over 140 sources referenced at the back of the book by chapter.

What I learned from writing my book is just how grateful I am that I have the chance each day to add more humour into the lives of my students. I also continually learned new things the more I wrote and researched, the more I realized I wanted to know. One example is the chapter on how Abraham Lincoln used humour to deal with the darkest days of the Civil War as conveyed to me by leading historian on the subject, Dr. James Cornelius.

I'd ask readers to download the book, and read the chapters that resonate with you. There is something in here for you if you are a teacher, professor, school administrator, workshop facilitator, seminar leader, life coach, office manager or leader of women and men or simply want to learn how to add more humour, fun, empowering energy into your work life. I'd love to hear from you and will respond if you have specific questions or feedback.

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