Aug 27 2010

Why you should NOT make a big inspirational first day speech

Many CMs have already passed their first days, and I’ve been reading some posts and cringing a bit when I read about how new teachers spend a lot of time right away with their ‘setting big goals’ / ‘investment’ speech. You can set big goals and you can work on getting your students ‘invested’ but you shouldn’t do it with a big speech. Here’s an analogy explaining why:

Imagine that you are forced to go to a comedy club. You’ve been to that club before and you didn’t think the comics were very funny, and you’re not very optimistic this time, especially when a nervous first-timer takes the stage. And then, what does he say when he opens his mouth? “Hi everyone. I want you to know that you’re going to laugh one and a half to two times as much as you have for the other comedians. I’m just that funny. I believe that you will laugh a lot with me as your comedian, even if nobody else believes it.” and then goes on for about ten minutes like that.

It’s not going to work. It makes the audience uncomfortable, skeptical, and worst of all, they haven’t laughed yet, which is what they want to do.

No, what you do is you win them over, not by telling them how funny you are, but by proving it by telling some good jokes and making them laugh.

OK, so the not so veiled analogy interpretation: You’re much better off teaching something (like telling jokes) so the students learn something (laugh). As a teacher about to start my thirteenth year (and an occasional stand-up, though not nearly as experienced or as good at it) I’m sure that the big goals speech is counterproductive. Actions speak louder than words.

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

Region
Houston
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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