#DBC50Summer 20/50: Instant Relevance

If I had a dime for every time I heard “When am I ever going to use this?”… well, I’d have more money than I have right now. The sad truth is that there are some lessons students are required to sit through and when asked that question, I won’t lie to them. They will likely never use it unless they go into a specified career field. I’ve never used it in day-to-day life. While this is the case for some pieces of our curriculum, there are far more concepts they will use regularly. It is our job as teachers to make those lessons relevant for students, so they aren’t even asking that question. It should be clear when they will use it in real life! And that’s what book 20 in the Dave Burgess Consulting line up is all about.  Instant Relevance by Denis Sheeran is an incredibly small book with an incredibly powerful message. Stop right now and grab your own copy! It’s worth it!


Throughout this book, Denis shows us example after example of how to take every day experiences and integrate them immediately into your lessons. He speaks to how you must have a relationship built with students, so you will know which experiences will connect to your students. If you talk about the Super Bowl commercials to a room of students who don’t enjoy football, the lesson loses effectiveness. It is important to know your audience, and in this case, that is your students. Know them! Discover their interests, their passions. This will enable you to find connections and make learning relevant to them.

True to DBC form, “Instant” has two meanings here. It does, in fact, take the dictionary definition and apply it to education. It is also an acronym (I know, right? Impressive).  The Captain sure does love his acronyms… both in his own book and the books he publishes apparently! I’d love to know how long it took to make the connection between Denis’s ideas and the acronym INSTANT. Not sure how to make learning relevant? Just follow the acronym!

I: Infusing who you are in what you do

N: Natural flow – follow the question

S: Sudden changes to your surroundings

T: Television and pop culture

A: Awareness of your surroundings

N: National events and crazes

T: Two or more content areas

Not only is this book informative and conversational, it’s also hilarious. I totally want to meet Denis Sheeran. He made me laugh more times than I can count with his sarcasm throughout the book! I appreciate a good dose of sarcasm, that’s for sure! Denis is a math educator and many of his stories from this book relate to math lessons. However, this is not a math book! He has many other examples of relevance across content areas.

It’s not about using his examples, it’s about using his example! He wasn’t afraid to look outside education for educational content.

There are multiple quotes that popped out to me, but I’ll only share a few here.

  • “…as teachers we need to infuse our lives into our work…don’t leave these things at the door when you walk into your classroom; bring them with you. By doing so, you’ll be bringing in the unexpected possibilities and connections your students need.”
  • “Sharing stories in class opens the door, even floodgates, for our students to learn about us and become comfortable talking about their own life experiences…When you tap into your students’ lives, your class immediately becomes relevant.”
  • “Too often we place the lesson plan’s importance over the value of our students’ experience…guide our students to understanding – not for them into compliance.”
  • “There is no better way to describe the teacher-student relationship…than the words: “Meet me at my best. Then we can go together.”
  • “Instead of sidelining the topics captivating my students’ attention in favor of ones they struggle to stay awake through, I prefer to use them to instruct and connect.”

Do you notice a connection? These quotes were taken from throughout the book. The connection here is the connection. That is my implementation. I work hard to make connections with each of my students. I strive to be “that teacher” for them. I want to always notice the students who need a little extra love that day and know the stories of those around me. I want them to know my stories as well. Without making an authentic connection, it is difficult to make learning real for them. Therefore, my implementation will be to continue to connect with my students. I will continue to know them by name (focusing on learning my 6th graders’ names faster), saying hello every morning, and making the media center a safe haven for every student in the school. It is only by forming these relationships that I can meet them at their best, share the topics that are interesting to them, infuse our lives into the learning, and guide them through understanding their curriculum. Not only will I do this for my students, but also for the teachers in my building. I look forward to learning their stories, so I can make learning relevant for them as well.

Like I said, this little book is so powerful! Like Shakespeare says in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “though she be but little, she is fierce.” Instant Relevance is a FIERCE book! One that I recommend you get now! Go ahead… I’ll wait.

The Flipgrid is available here with the password DBCSummer. Think of a lesson that was relevant for your students. Tell about that lesson; what did you do and how did your students respond? The idea for a global book study through flipgrid comes from my sweet friend, and incredible educator, Andrea Paulakovich. Go follow her on Twitter & follow her #DBC50Summer journey on her blog here. Be bold – be the first person to post your thoughts! Others will follow!

Check out Denis’s website here! His blog posts are just as awesome as his book! You’ll see his humor clearly! Multiple podcasts can be found along the side of his website. Be sure to check out the Instant Relevance podcast here! You can also follow the community on Twitter using the hashtag #MakeItReal. Join the chat using the same hashtag on Wednesday nights at 9:30 EST. Denis also has another book out called Hacking Mathematics. Check it out as well!

This is so hard to believe… we’ve finished Book 20! That means it’s time for another #DBC50Summer Recap! Watch for that post in the next day or two. In the meanwhile, check out Summer Recap 1 for information on the first ten books, and my #DBC50Summer interlude about discovering my #EDUpassions.

*Also, Denis? If you’re reading this… let your students know that I went back and removed one space after every paragraph. That’s a LOT of wasted paper, right? Although, this likely won’t be printed. At least, I hope not. But still…on principle, I went with the one space rule. (It may have hurt a little, but it’s just the sacrifice we must make for students.)

4 thoughts on “#DBC50Summer 20/50: Instant Relevance

  1. Pingback: #DBC50Summer Book 11-20 Recap | AliciaRay.com

  2. Pingback: #DBC50Summer 25/50: Teaching Math with Google Apps | AliciaRay.com

  3. Pingback: Stained Glass and Snowflakes | Educational Hindsight

  4. Pingback: My #OneWord2019 | Educational Hindsight

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