DISCLAIMER: If you have never experienced something similar to the story we’re about to share, we’re going to question your teaching experience.
It was the beginning of the school year and I was feeling recharged and excited for my new group of students. I read a couple books, attended a conference, and restructured my entire course.
I was ready to hit the ground running on the first day of school with students, until my life suddenly ended! No, obviously I didn’t die, but I can assure you death would have been preferable on that horrible day. What started out as a beautiful August morning, full of excitement and joy to change the world with fresh batch of young faces, turned into a day of torture.
Being energized by my summer activities, I entered the school on that late August day a little more bubbly than in years past. In fact, I was even up for the beginning of the school year professional development. Especially since the PD for that year focused on bell to bell engagement! Just more tools I could use to transform my classroom. So, on the day first day of PD I eagerly entered the library, found a seat close to the front, and sat patiently for the presenter to begin. I was about 30 minutes early, so I took this opportunity to finish updating my new syllabus and setting up the seating chart. Distracted by this mindless work, I remember being startled when one of my colleagues slammed the door to library closed. At the moment I didn’t think anything of it, but I can now confidently say that it wasn’t’ a library door closing, it was actually the slamming of a cellar door locking us into a torture chamber decorated with Harry Potter and Captain Underpants posters.
Still unaware of what was to come, I sat in anticipation for the presenter to begin. At about 5 minutes to the hour, the bubbly presenter with a southern accent stands up and in the most polite manner says, “Ya’ll, if you wouldn’t mind finding a seat and shutting down your computers, we are about to start.” I immediately complied and was ready to learn.
Mrs. Southern Belle began with the typical five minute icebreaker and then proceeded to review the agenda.
“Heavens to Betsy, in the next three hours we’re fixin’ to review what the research says about student engagement. I reckon we’ll take a break after that and move right into a detailed overview of engaging instructional strategies. We’ll keep trudging away til’ the cows come home.”
It was at this point a huge grey cloud poked its head from the bookshelves and positioned itself directly over my float- my parade was officially rained on. My hopes turned to fears and I could feel the vices tightening around my neck. Like I said, I would have preferred death over the ridiculousness of sitting through a six hour lecture on student engagement. I am not joking. This presenter, who was paid well, talked to us for six hours about being engaging. In her defense, she did have the majority of what she said written out on her 147 slide powerpoint.
Does anyone else see the irony here?
Fortunately I didn’t die and through the pain I learned three important lessons:
It shouldn’t take horrible, life threatening experiences like this to realize that we are torturing our students by talking too much. Admittedly, I may have tortured my students in the past, but I assure you that it will never happen again!
Don’t forget to share your thoughts below!
Ry and Justin