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An Unexpected Classroom Intervention


With only five minutes left until the end of class, I ask a student to go to the front of the classroom for a quick "stand and deliver" exercise.  He's asked to speak about a topic of interest for one minute, devoid of any verbal fillers, like uh or um, that might distract the audience from his message.

He chooses to talk about how he settled on his major.  He begins, "I've always looked up to my father, so when I thought about what to study, I looked to his career as a model.  He's a chemical engineer.  He has a PhD in it, actually.  When I enrolled here, it seemed natural to follow in his footsteps and major in chemical engineering, so I did.  Except now I'm two years into the program, and I realize that I don't love it.  I'm much more interested in computer engineering, but I worry that I'm too far into my courses to change."

I glance at my watch and I realize that he's already reached his time limit, but nobody in the audience is antsy.  They're rapt with attention.  One student ahead of me nods her head in understanding, then kindly interjects, "You're not too far."

Other students immediately echo the same sentiment:

"No, you still have time to make a change."

"You're preparing for the rest of your life.  Don't settle -- do what you're passionate about. "

"Don't keep going down a road that you know is wrong.  Changing your major might seem drastic to you now, but it makes sense to correct your course.

The whole class rallies behind him.  I sit quietly, filled to the brim at this outpouring.  He listens, nodding intently, as classmate after classmate echos that he's not as trapped as he thinks he is.

We all thought that he was going to the front of the classroom for a brief speaking exercise.  Instead, it turned out to be the most unexpected intervention from 26 of his classmates, who at that moment, were the best audience I've ever seen.

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We Shouldn't Wait Until They're Leaving

A woman who works in my department is leaving her position and starting a new job next week.  This woman is stellar.  With work, she's helpful and competent.  Socially, she's kind and gracious.  Personally, she's remarkably classy, from how she dresses (always stylish) to how she speaks (her voice is like velvet.)

I've always thought these things about her, and now that she's leaving, I made a point to tell her.  Which is good, but only kind of good.

Wouldn't it be better if we offered our compliments to others right as we think them, rather than holding onto those compliments until the perfect time?  It's like winking at someone in the dark: you know how you feel about them, but they don't.

I'd rather let them know up front -- before they're leaving.

So that's why I paused while writing this post to walk down the hallway and tell a colleague that the presentation he gave yesterday was excellent.  Why wait?  Why hold out doing and saying good when it can be done now?

Now is better.  Don't wait until they're leaving.



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How My Kids Became the Most Annoying Customers in Walmart


Title: How My Kids Became the Most Annoying Customers in Walmart

Subtitle: I offer this as a warning.  At all costs, avoid the aisle where cow bells are sold.

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