St. Catharines Standard, Ont. Canada
Oct 30 2010

Keep it interesting in the classroom


Dear Ted: I have been teaching high school for almost 20 years now and
even though I have had discipline issues with some of my students over
the years, it seems to be getting worse and worse. I don't want to
retire yet, but I do feel more tired and more frustrated everyday. Do
you have any suggestions?

Answer: Don't take offence to this, but there is an old Armenian
saying, "The fish rots from the head." It refers to the head of the
country, the head of the church, the head of the company, the head of
the house, the head of the class and our own heads. If we don't like
whom we are or where we are, we are going to mess with everyone else
around us.

You are the head of the class, you are the example and you are the
leader of the day. Yes, I know there are teens in your class who don't
want to be there and who have major behavioral issues, but you are
still the leader and the example to be set on how that interaction
will unfold. And yes, teens are different today than they were 20
years ago -- that doesn't mean they are bad, just different.

Try to go back and remember your first few years as a teacher. I would
hope that you were excited to be in the classroom, you got a big boost
by knowing how you were shaping those lives for the better. Now
examine how you are teaching today. Do you still have that same
enthusiasm and passion or do you have burnout?

I believe that when you stand up in front of each class you should
make it an event. Besides writing this column, I am also a
professional speaker and no matter how many times I deliver the same
material I make each and every presentation as if it was my first. I
make sure each and every presentation is an event.

Milton Berle said that there are no old jokes, just new audiences.

I also know that over the years I have had to modify my presentations
in order to keep them fresh. I find that the more I entertain my
audience, the more they want to be there and the more they absorb.
Over the years, your audience has changed as well and it is important
that you are not teaching the same way you taught 20 years ago. You
are probably thinking they are there to learn, that you are not an
entertainer, but the kids today are brought up with six-to 12-minute
bites. Their attention spans are shorter and because of today's
technology they grasp things a lot faster than we did.

It may not be the teens sitting in your classroom that are the
problem. It simply may be the head of the class that needs to look for
a fresh new approach to the classroom.

A tip for all of you seasoned teachers: If you are feeling frustrated
by the lack of interest in your classroom, maybe it is time to step
back and re-evaluate your presentation skills and how you are

Don't be afraid to ask your students what they like and what will get
them interested in your topic. Think outside the box and try to think
what it would be like to sit for 40 minutes and listen to you. If you
shudder at that thought, then make the change.

Remember, you have the ability to change your world based on your tone
and attitude toward those whom you are teaching. In order to be open
to learning they need to believe that you care and when they believe
in you, you will attain 'buy in' not just compliance.

Ted Mouradian is a workplace relations consultant, author,
professional speaker and president of The Mouradian Group Inc. If you
have a work-related question for Ted, please send it to
[email protected]
or by regular mail to Workplace Wisdom, P.O. Box 671, St. Catharines,
Ont., L2R 6W8.

From: A. Papazian