From the other side of the room

In looking for something to inspire a post this evening, I ran across one called Education, or just getting by?by Robbie Mitchell.  While the purpose of the post was to talk to other young people about the need to get an education rather than a grade, I was struck by the story he used to open the post:

Today, my Mechanics teacher had trouble getting the projector to turn on.  I always find it entertaining watching someone very intelligent, but very behind the times, attempting to wrestle technology into submission.  He essentially kept trying to press the same button over again, and I guess that must have worked eventually because after about ten minutes, we finally began class.

… as all of this transpired, more and more students in the class decided that this ten minute wait was too long and decided to leave.  By the time he finally figured out how to use the projector, I’d say half the class was already gone….

The way that the writer talks about this professor and his struggle with the projector, I don’t think it was an unusual occurrence.  Maybe it isn’t always the same professor, but it seems like there are may be a number of professors at his school for whom technology is a challenge.

When I first read this, I thought, “How can someone not know how to run a projector?”  But then it morphed into, “Well, we have all experienced technical glitches.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.”  And, at least, he was attempting to use some sort of technology in class.  We can hope that it was an excellent presentation once the projector started working.

So I have to ask myself, what would I have done?  Would I have done any better? What could I or anyone else do to minimize the frequency of those kinds of situations?

Well, the first step, I think, is to practice.  Practice a lot.  Be sure you know how to use the equipment.  Write down all the steps to follow if you have to — and then follow them!  I almost aways write everything down because that is how I learn.  But I also refer to my notes until the task is automatic.  And even then, I make sure I know where those notes are in case I need them.

The second thing, and maybe the most important, is to ask for help when you need it.  Ask a colleague before class.  But if it happens during class, don’t be afraid to ask students. It shown much more intelligence to admit when you don’t know how to do something than to pretend that you do when everyone can see you don’t.

These seem like basic ideas that I would never have thought to blog about if I hadn’t read Robbie’s post.  It’s good to see things from the other side of the room once in a while!


2 thoughts on “From the other side of the room

  1. I have had some of those experiences like sound not working, video not working, etc. The students are often very good at fixing sound problems, but not always.
    In the last year we have gotten some new projectors and they don’t always play nice with the computers on the media carts. After having the projectors show strange images of the desktop, as if pixels were missing, I asked the tech folks. They weren’t sure what the problem was but one of them had figured out a way to get around it, so by asking them I found a quick way to resolve the problem and get on with class. I suggested that the tech folks should train us, but then our professional development day was canceled because of lack of interest so it is back to on the job training.

    1. Yeah, I think we have all had stuff like that happen. And training doesn’t seem likely in this budget climate. At east real valuable training doesn’t seem likely!

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