Sitting in the foyer of a local high school brought me back a few years. Although my high school is a 7-hour flight from here (and many years in the past) the sights and sounds are familiar: parents rushing in to sign forms or pick up students for dental appointments, office workers busily filing documents and answering phones, and the school bell that instantly mobilizes an entire building. Just one thing gives away the current era: mobile phones. They’re everywhere.
Waiting for the session bell to ring gave me plenty of time to realize I was nervous about teaching my first Junior Achievement class. I’m adept at presenting to professionals and executives – but how would I relate to tenth graders in a way that would provide value to them? I couldn’t help but remember the Sidney Poitier movie “To Sir With Love” where the girls are snarky, the boys look dangerous, and hormones abound.
At the sound of the bell I was met by my assigned teacher, Lorena. It quickly became evident that she cares for her students. I loved watching the way she brought them all in, got them in order, and explained what would take place for the next hour. Throughout the class she watched closely to ensure the students had what they needed. At one point when she offered clarification on an exercise instruction I had given I was reminded that good educators share a competency with the best business leaders: delivering clear expectations. We could probably learn a thing or two about clarity from teachers.
The students could not have been farther from the images in my imagination. They were quiet and mostly soft spoken. It was challenging to get them to participate but by the end of the class more than half of them did. They easily grasped the concept of making buy, sell, hold decisions. In fact, they seemed to like the decision making part. And they certainly understood the appeal of investing. I can’t wait to see what they do with the stock market simulation over the next few weeks.
I wonder what it is like for an experienced teacher to turn her classroom over to a newbie. That might make an interesting future post.
In honour of teachers everywhere, here’s a recent remake of Lulu’s famous song “To Sir With Love” (from Glee). Click the link for a redirect to YouTube.