Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Stop Disappointment And Create Successful Classes!

The german word for disappointment is "Enttäuschung", which literally translated means dis-deception. Disappointments arise when people's expectations are not met.  It doesn't matter if they deceived themselves or were deceived by someone else - what matters is that we can influence their expectations. If we are good at it, it can even be possible to set their expectations.  Talking about them is a first step. 


Let's look at two practical application's of this concept:
An easy expectation to create is about the class' content. Since I always set goals for myself anyway, I try to communicate those to my students. It's important to communicate goals that make sense to your students, else it will be difficult for them to adapt to the new expectations.  When you feel like your class wasn't perceived as you had imagined and planned it beforehand, ask yourself if you perhaps created the wrong expectations or none at all.  Did you communicate them effectively?  Could it be that you created unrealistic expectations for yourself?  Evaluate these questions, adapt the newly found results, and try again!

Your ability to influence student expectations varies based on whether the original expectations are deeply engrained or not.

One dance school I worked for often held regular "group" classes with only 1 to 3 participants. The expectations of the new students were everything but matched.  Many of you reading this may be thinking "woah! awesome for the students!", but consider the fact that many students like the "anonymity" of a group class. They can learn by listening and watching, and the limited amount of personal feedback they receive does not overwhelm them.  However, if they are exposed to too much feedback all of a sudden, a big gap between their expectations and reality arises. If the students can't adapt their original expectations accordingly -- and it's unfair for you to expect them to --  the experience will be very frustrating. For us as teachers, this means that we must either try to re-orient their expectations or, if this won't work, teach as if it were a class with 20 students.

Should you manage to create expectations and then exceed them, the class experience will be even better for your students. In addition to having learned the material that they would have learned either way, your students will also feel good!