Thursday, September 24, 2015

Teaching Tip #13

Teacherscribe’s Teaching Tip #13

One of my favorite writers and thinkers is Seth Godin.  On an Entreleadership podcast two years ago Godin talked about the importance of having a business that delivers satisfaction.  Since my business is teaching, I immediately began applying this to how I teach.

Godin explained that customers pay businesses in three ways: with money, trust, and referrals.

I connect that to teaching in that I’ve found students “pay” us in three ways: with time, trust, and referrals.

Here’s a deeper dive:

Time - Think of all the class time students spend with us.  Think of the hours of homework.  If you connect with them and cement a nurturing culture, this time is a given.  If you don’t have a positive culture, the time is a prison sentence for students.

Tips 5, 6, and 7 are vital in helping cement culture.

Here is one of my examples - In College Comp 2 I assign a 6-8 page paper . . . due on the FIRST day of class.  

I have never had a late paper. 


Because I have cemented culture from CC 1.  Only those who really connect with me and are willing to put in the work make it to CC 2.  They are wiling to invest the time.

Trust - We must get students to trust us.  Without trust, it’s going to be an uphill battle to connect and let our subjects sink in.  

Get to know your kids and build trust.  If they know you’ll work for them and take a chance for them, they’ll return the favor.

Referrals - I never considered the fact that students talk to their parents about the class and me until one day a parent said, “Oh, we talk quite a bit about your class.”

I was taken aback.  What exactly did they say?

He chuckled and mentioned that the last conversation about my class was around the film Jaws and how much is daughter hated it.  He, though, thankfully, loved the movie and we had a ten minute conversation about Quint!

Just last year on the final day of class, a father texted me and said that I had a disciple in his daughter because she often began her conversations at dinner with the phrase “Mr. Reynolds said . . .”

But what if I don’t have have great culture?  What will they say then?

This goes beyond students though.  What do parents say?

Here is another example from three years ago.

I got an email from a parent whose son and daughter took both College Comp 1 and 2 from me.  She said that she was visiting with a co-worker whose son was taking summer school.  The mother didn’t realize that I taught summer school.  So after hearing this woman talk about how much her son enjoyed this crazy English teacher he had for Composition at the ALC, she asked the mother who it was.  

She was shocked when she said my name.

So she emailed me to share the compliment with me and to share some other kind words about the impact I had on her son and daughter too.

This totally made my year, and school hadn’t even started yet!  But the key thing that illustrates the importance of referrals is that she also blind cc’d that email to Mr. Zutz and Mrs. Larson.

I didn’t realize this until on the first day of school when I walked into school and saw our superintendent walking towards me.

“I was looking for you,” Mrs. Larson said.

Great, not exactly what I want to hear on the first day of school!  Ha ha.

“What an email that was . . .” she began.

Then it dawned on me that she had been included on it without me knowing.

Later when Mr. Zutz mentioned it too, I knew that he had been included as well.

And I had no idea!

So what else is being said about us and our classes that we don’t know?

Certainly it wall won’t be positive, but let’s try to make it as positive as possible by remembering the three ways students “pay” us.

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