Teaching Tips

Apr 1, 2020, 2:24

Negative Statements That Teachers/Presenters Sometimes Hide Behind

02 September 2009

By Mary Petersen, Editor, “The Gold Medal Classroom”

Dr. Fred Mayo gave a series of educational workshops to teachers attending CAFÉ workshops last year.  His topic covered what teachers can do in order to present material for maximum impact and by way of example of what NOT to do, including some negative statements by teachers that have been heard in classrooms: 

  • “I am not sure what I am supposed to do here, but here goes……”
  • “I know you don’t like food sanitation, but we have to do it.”
  • “We have a ton of material to cover so we have to move fast and there is no time for questions.”
  • “I know this part is boring, but please stay with me and we will get through it.”
  • “If you don’t learn this, you won’t have a job or can’t keep a job and no one will hire you.”
  • “This may not make sense to you now, but try to learn it anyway.”
  • “You have to remember the four key steps in sautéing, so pay attention now.”
  • “Now what else can I say, now that I am up here?”
  • “Now I’m in the middle of the barrel and you can start shooting.  You would like that, wouldn’t you?”

When I first heard these phrases, I laughed and then squirmed.  I think I have been guilty on many occasions of showing some similar vulnerability while at the front of a room so that (in my way of thinking) people will relax and know that I am human.

But as Fred explained, starting talks or presentations with negative statements sets a tone for the class leaving the listener with a pre-conceived idea of being lectured to unnecessarily or that the material is unimportant or worse still, that the instructor is not convinced of the worth of the material (or the student’s ability to benefit from it!).

The lesson learned?  I’m trying to spend less time apologizing and more time being enthusiastic in front of my listeners!  And I’ll do away with any self-deprecating statements that only serve to lose my audience!