When it is OK to lecture

I keep a journal and as I looked back at an entry dated 1/11/2005, I came across this great quote that I had noted.

It seems that on this day, I was frustrated with how many times I was having to talk to a particular class about a particular flaw. (Some classes just seem to whine – although I must say in the two years since, I don't have much of that problem now.)

I talked to a veteran teacher of 30 years and this is what she said to me:

“Lecture them over and over and over because they need to hear it. We don't just teach our subject here, we teach these students who to live their lives. They are kids and no matter how old they are, they need to hear it again and again and it WILL have an impact.”

This reminds me of the post (aptly titled Sometimes a Teacher's Gotta Preach: Advice for Teenagers on Spring Break and Prom) from a while back where I recorded my pre-prom / pre-Spring Break “lecture.”

It is not often that I do “lecture” and when I do, I don't do it for too long. But I am finding that my students from three and four years a go are coming back to retell me the “stories” that I told them during one of these infrequent but heartfelt “lectures” of mine.

You teach them how to live

My point is this. Yes, we teach important subjects, but the best teachers also teach students HOW to live. (Just watch the movies of acclaimed teachers.)

If we do not teach students about character and wise decision making, we truly stand upon the precipice of disaster in our increasingly interconnected world. Ethics are directly tied to character.

I talk openly with my students about most everything from the dangers of pornography (studies show that spouses with this addiction are more unhappy in their marraiges) to that of speeding, drinking, drug addictions, sex, online safety, online predators, myspace safety, and most anything as appropriate. I love my students.

Prom Season is upon us

As we look at prom season coming, we need to know that after it has come and gone that we can live with ourselves for having done all we could to promote wise decisions. If you have an audience of teenagers, you have a great responsibility.

But where is the technology, Vicki?

OK, I haven't forgotten technology – I have a wealth of posts coming on everything from Second Life (see online places in SL for educators from SimTeach) to my new wiki projects but I have been immersed in PowerSchool this week and hope to finish up tomorrow so I can again share some neat things I'm doing. I also had my Computer Science students choose “major fields of interest” that we call “majors” for some upcoming projects. They are excited. Flat Classroom winners will be announced Sunday! More later.

For now, I'm reflecting because I am tired. Have a great day and if you feel your inner prompt pushing you to “lecture” on the things of life to your students sometimes it is OK.

(Note: This is not an excuse for those teachers who tend to have “conversation time” on a daily basis. That is not my style AT ALL nor, what I'm advocating. I am an adult leader not a “buddy.” This is about taking time during the right time to talk — I do this 2-3 times per year per class, usually when something “big” has happened that has them upset or around breaks and ALWAYS around Prom season.)

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Graham Wegner January 12, 2007 - 2:14 am

Just one question from the other side of the world – what is prom season? I’m seriously curious…

Vicki A. Davis January 12, 2007 - 12:55 pm

Hey, Graham,

Our junior and senior classes (11, 12) have a big party called the Junior-Senior or the Junior-Senior prom or just the prom. If you’ve seen American movies like the musical Grease, there is a scene at a big dance at the end and that is called the prom.

The prom is a big tradition in the spring of the Senior’s last year traditionally pretty soon before they graduate and is the last dance before they graduate from high school. The junior class does it for the senior class and raises money (usually our prom costs around $7,000) to put the prom on. It usually starts around 8 and goes until 1 a.m. and has elaborate decorations and a “theme.”

It has grown into an excuse for boys to get their dates into bed and for kids to overindulge in alcohol. Often there are post prom parties and the kids have a breakfast the next morning and some kids don’t go to sleep at all.

Needless to say, dumb decisions, or no decisions at all are made and students are left to deal with the consequences. Every prom season there are tragedies that we hear about but the ones that break my heart are the girls who make decisions and lose their virginity and regret it very much later or they start on a path of overindulgence and it continues from there.

Many parents have differing views and mine are shared in the post that I sited in this blog – sometimes the Teacher’s gotta preach.

Our school has breathalyser tests at the door and we tend to not have problems AT the dance at all. However, to think it is not happening is foolish and naive.

I hope that explains it.

Graham Wegner January 13, 2007 - 11:19 am

Vicki, thanks for that overview. I just didn’t want to base my assumptions on my impressions from American movies! I never knew that it involved two levels of kids or where it fitted into the timeline of the year. We don’t have an equivalent in Australia of that stature – although when kids finish Year 12 exams and are technically done with secondary education, then there is something called “schoolies” week where school leavers head off to a coastal town, book into the local caravan park and the excess starts from there. Definitely a time for poor judgement but beyond the jurisdiction of schools as all the students are no longer under their authority. Would I be right that the prom season starts from the planning of the night right until graduation?

shields_06-07 January 15, 2007 - 2:29 pm

Your compasion for children really comes through in your heartfelt sermon/lecture of 2006. I hadn’t explored your archives so I never would have read this posting if you hadn’t referenced it here. I plan to pass it on to my own Prom-aged kids. Thanks.

Nick Smith January 21, 2007 - 1:13 pm

“I love my students.”

This is the difference that makes the difference Vicki.

There seems to be so much focus on the form, structure and content of what we attempt to communicate that this simple intent seems to be mostly overlooked. In any form of communication I am sure it is the ‘intent’ that is heard first….. and becomes the grease that allows everything else to be delivered and received.

It’s love that gives us both permission to teach and opens up a trusting space where frictionless learning can occur.

I really admire who you are, the work you do and what you stand for Vicki. Thank you.

Vicki A. Davis January 21, 2007 - 11:17 pm

Graham –
Different schools have their proms at different times. Some even as early as January. Basically, what I’ve seen is that once Prom happens, some kids try things for the first time like alcohol, and after prom, they continue in that behavior with a negative consequences in their behavior as well as in their grades (and often relationship with their parents). So, although the excess is centered around an event, with the schools all having prom at different times, it is all around us.

thank you for the compliment. I think I should move that up to my MVP list.

thank you for the genuine compliment. There are so many teachers who are heroes and it often does center around this feeling of love that no textbook would ever dare broach or intend. I think with the scandals that have besmirched good teachers everywhere (the young school teachers sleeping with their students) that many hesitate to say they love their students. Now that I’m a little older (37) I am glad that I am free to hug my students — I often tell them as a class that I love them. They know it. It does open up trust and gives them freedom to excel for truly to learn one must make a lot of mistakes.

Thank you all for your encouragement. I appreciate the opportunity to blog about these things that are so important to me!

buzzfree promqueen February 12, 2007 - 6:23 am

Yep, it’s OK to lecture. Especially, if you’ve got their attention. I loved your candid approach about all the choices kids will face on prom night and graduation season. I try to create effective safety curriculum for prom night, and other occasions. We constantly walk that fine line of hitting too close to home on real issues in posters and videos, we run the risk of censor. Research says that awareness of the repercussions is the number one deterrent against alcohol and drug abuse. So far, It’s turned out that the idea that made us most nervous, was the one that hit the hardest, and evoked a response. I’d like to hear what you and the rest of the world thinks on that. What works? Or what do we dare to do to see if it works?

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