Are we the absolute worst profession for telling others what to do and not following our own advice? I don’t know. You’ll have to leave a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear about it. I don’t mean to run my own profession down either. I’m sure there are plenty of other professionals who are the same….surely?!
I attended a professional learning session for teachers this week. It was an all-day session and I was really excited to be attending. It was on a topic that would potentially improve my teaching practice.
It started in a way I’ve never experienced before though, and I won’t forget it. The principal of the centre came in to announce that due to the COVID-19 outbreak, they had hand sanitiser and if anyone felt uncomfortable attending the session they could leave immediately and would be refunded. Now that was a sizzling start! No one left…but I don’t think anyone was brave enough either (or maybe we are just so dedicated?).
So, it was all going along smoothly. The presenter introduced the general theme of the session. She started with some facts to capture our attention and show the importance of the topic. It was at this time that I started to hear a general low hum of conversation. It was a bit like a fridge hum, or a fly buzzing close to my ear. I casually turned around and found my suspect. It was a teacher at the table next to me.
She actually talked throughout the entire presentation. The only break from her low hum of talking was when we did group work and I had the chance to hear other voices in the room. The presenter gently gave her a few clues. One was to look at her in a way that would suggest to the ordinary folk, “I’m not happy with you right now and you should really stop.” Most people would have stopped talking at this point because she had nailed the “teacher look” really well. The culprit didn’t get this clue. A few minutes later the presenter said, “Well, maybe you should be running this course.” Our culprit laughed…..and kept on talking 🤯
You know these people, right? When the presenter asks for feedback and they contribute to every single damn discussion. If the presenter gasps to take a breath, they pounce and inject their five cents worth on information. It’s all about them, their class, their children, their life…. It started to really grind on my nerves after a while and I wanted to tell her to just shut up! As that would have been highly unprofessional, I sat there quietly seething and tried to block her out. This was quite challenging as her voice was very low and was like a constant hum in my ear.
What was interesting was that other people were giving her the “look” and she just didn’t get it. We were talking about the social pragmatics of language!! Taking turns to talk and cueing in to the social behaviours of those around you are key language skills. The poor person at her table was literally ignoring her while she continued to talk. This was quite interesting. Most people would get the hint and be deterred by a partner who refused to look at them. What a great psychological experiment this could be! If, according to Edgar Dale, we learn 20% by just listening, then what would this woman be learning when she is talking the entire time?
At the end of the session she joined our table. We were talking about a literacy topic. She said we were all incorrect, even though we cited research studies to the contrary, and she continued to talk. Wow. This person could only talk, talk, talk, talk and would not let themselves listen to learn or just hear the perspectives of her fellow teachers. I listened to her for a bit but had to feign an excuse to exit. The older I get, I have less tolerance for such people.
These teachers are often the first to have zero tolerance to students talking in their own classroom. Some people just love the sound of their own voice too much. It was a great session and I learnt a lot. Of course, we do learn through talking and sharing ideas. Listening however, is vital. The “talker” was extremely annoying and the experience was a bit entertaining. Everyone was so incredibly tolerant. I took the opportunity to reflect and appreciate how much I learnt because I shut up and listened!
Credits: Pixabay clipart