Prior to this year, I taught the large lecture public speaking class which includes a live streamed/recorded version of the lecture. Everything I said was public and viewable in an archive. We had a string of technical problems until one day I thought everything was going well, I even commented on how well things were going in the lecture. Then I realized no one was complaining because all the online students were locked out. There was no one to complain because they could not get in.
I lost it.
I got red in the face and let loose a stream of profanity more befitting an Oakland Raiders practice or 1970s basic training. I did this in the middle of a recorded lecture, a lecture on public speaking. We have all said things in the classroom we wish we could take back. The question is: What do you do next?
Fortunately I have done something like this enough times (I am not kidding; it is a bit of a problem for me) to have developed a system for this:
- Realize your class is looking at you to model behavior for them. Mistakes are made and the wrong words come out all the time. Think of what you would want them to do and let that inform your subsequent behavior.
- Acknowledge that something happened in the moment if you collect yourself in time. This is one of the best ways to defuse a situation and sometimes turns into a teachable moment where you can reflect on a mistake with the class.
- Follow up with a class announcement through Blackboard if the situation warrants it. This is an easy way to document your response to a mistake and model good behavior for your class by dealing with it rather than ignoring it.
- Follow up with your chair or supervisor if necessary. If what you said is likely to result in a student complaint or if you would like some advice, get in touch with the people you work with and let them know.
- Move on. We have all caught ourselves dwelling on that one bad student evaluation or that one mistake. The students are here because they want an education and you can help them with that. Deal with the problem and move on; don’t spend your semester reliving one moment.
Got a great teaching idea of your own? Showcase at the CELT Conference in a SLAM session (10/8 at 9:30am) facilitated by Ben Seipel or be on the lookout for a poster session invitation. Remember to Register!
Got an idea for a tip? Pass it on to us!