How many of us have taken a college class and have had to fill out one of those evaluation forms at the end? Everyone gives the teacher 5’s (5 being the best) across the board. When you stand up to speak, everyone says you did well! Why? Because they’re in the same boat. You’re not going to say, “Oh LORD! That was awful! Didn’t you practice? There was NO POINT to your speech! What were you thinking?!” You’re the NEXT Speaker! You want Nice things said about you.
Well I had a student give me a critique yesterday. Every student gets the “This is how you learn” speech. If you do these 6 steps, you can learn any subject. I then proceed to tell them how much I’ve learned. I tell them all the degrees and certifications I have picked up, how many classes in all different levels I have taught, how many languages I speak…ain’t I special? I never thought it might sound bragadocious. I was WRONG! It was rather off putting. Hmmm. When a student says they’re having problems and are making a mountain out of a mole hill, I point it out with humor. Sometimes they don’t get it. Oh. Oops. I have been teaching for 50 years, and this is the first time anyone called me on these short comings.
They all say I really know a lot of stuff! They say I can communicate new ideas and concepts in a way that everyone can understand. But they think I’m making a big deal out of myself when I tell them that the reason I know this learning method works is because I’ve learned so many different things, and then I tell them what I’ve learned. I guess I have to change my approach to show them HOW it’s learned. This is how you learn a language; this is how you learn soccer skills; and this is how you pass a test… Rather than this is how I learned languages, and how I learned ballet, and how I passed these nasty investment tests.
I approach their shortcomings and challenges the same way I approach mine. I think of it as funny and look for obvious and over the top silliness. I cannot climb boulders–wahhhhhh! Well of course not! I live in Nebraska! There aren’t any! (I know, Pat, you have man made ones in Kearney.) Well of course not! They don’t let you do that with crutches! (Broke my hip and just getting off of crutches now.) Well of Course not! You’re over 60 and you can take the ski lift instead! I cannot use this humorous approach with Bill. I’d spend 15 minutes explaining it to him, and then he’d nod and still be mad at what I said in jest. I must be careful in dealing with clients and students to make sure I don’t come across as teasing or making fun of them.
I took that Strengths Finder quiz by Gallup, and I am a Learner, Achiever, Connector, Believer, and Individualizer. I also take personality quizzes that make me out to be a technical person–someone with science proclivity. I want to know how, why, when, what, and how it’s measured. I therefore consider myself one of the most educated persons in any room I walk into. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but a lot of knowledge is just plain annoying. I do NOT wish to belittle or besmirch someone because they do not know what I know. I don’t know all THEY know either. I was watching this movie by Woody Allen, “Midnight in Paris,” with Owen Wilson. There was a character played by Michael Sheen, that was absolutely a pain in the butt! He knew EVERYTHING about everything and had to give his opinion on every subject. There were many people around him that shut Owen up so they could hear this boor go on and on about something on which he was ill informed, even though Owen had more accurate information. They fawned over Michael’s character and hung on every word. He really Grated on me. Yet, I find myself disdaining some “experts” because they are not as well read and current on the subjects as I am. I won’t say anything out right, but I have a secret smile I reserve for these people. And sometimes, within seconds, I find out I’m the one that doesn’t know about the subjects that I thought I did.
“Better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.“~Mark Twain .
At least I know WHY I get the attitude now. I come off as bragadocious when I just list the facts as I know them. It is the WAY I list them that grates on people. I come off as aloof and arrogant when I use humor to point out the fallacies of my students’ or colleagues’ thought processes. I have to be careful of people’s feelings when I try to correct a misstep. I wish I had known this much earlier. As a leader, make sure you get unbiased and positive evaluation from your students, your clients, or your coworkers. Find out what you do right and what you need to improve on so that you can grow.