Saturday, May 3, 2014

What are you selling in your classroom? Are your students pressured or empowered to learn?

My wife and I finally purchased a camper!  (Shhhh, don’t tell our kids… we plan to surprise them before our first trip!)  We have been talking about buying a camper for the last couple of years.  We visited the local RV dealership and looked at campers online, not knowing what to expect or what we were doing.  Last week we did the same, visiting the local dealership and another that was bit further from our house.  Stay with me… I will connect this to educating children as you read on.  Our experience…

Dealer one:
·         Salesperson asked for contact information, our intent on buying, and wrote it on an invoice before showing campers.
·         Salesperson showed us two different campers that represented our desired options, stating that they only carry this brand because it is “topnotch.” 
·         Salesperson needed to get price from manager… the price was a secret. 
·         After showing the two campers, (which we liked) the salesperson didn’t give us any privacy to discuss.
·         Before leaving, the salesperson asked us to meet the manager.
·         Manager comments:
o   Why are you leaving so soon?
o   What can we do to get you into a camper today?
o   When do you plan on purchasing?
o   Which one are you leaning towards?
o   What is your timeframe?
o   We could probably do something to bring the price down.
o   Why don’t you come by this weekend and we can get you into one of those campers?
·         We asked for a copy of paperwork, with price listed; however, we were told that the paperwork is only for internal use. 

Don’t get me wrong, they were nice; however, they lacked genuine relationship skills and we felt a bit uncomfortable as we walked out of the dealership.  My wife and I walked in with a mindset to buy and walked out feeling pressured to buy. 

Dealer two:
·         Salesperson welcomed us into their shop, never asking for contact information.
·         Salesperson had five different campers that represented our desired options, stating that he can get any other campers that might fit our family camping specifications.   
·         All prices, options, and camper information was posted… prices and options were not a secret. 
·         Salesperson allowed us to tour all campers without hovering or asking us to make a decision. 
·         After seeing all five campers (which we liked), the salesperson answered our questions, gave us additional information and wished us luck, telling us to give him a call if we had any questions.  At no time did he ask us to make a purchase, give a timeframe for making a purchase, or make us feel uncomfortable with a process that should be exciting.  He even let us take his paperwork, which had all options and prices listed, unlike the first dealership salesperson and manager. 

What an excellent experience!  We felt great about discussing our options and dealer two empowered us throughout the purchasing process. 

It got me thinking… what are we “selling” in our classrooms and schools? 
Do we pressure or empower students to “buy” into learning?

·         Do we provide limited choices to learning, or do we give a multitude of choices of how a task can be completed?
·         Do we make learning a secret, or do we provide appropriate scaffolding to promote deeper levels of learning, tailored to individual student needs?
·         Do we hover over students, or do we facilitate intentional space to experience learning and collaborate with each other, providing supports along the way?
·         Do we put a timeframe on learning, or do we allow for it to happen when developmentally appropriate, while motivating students to love their learning experience?
·         Do we send students to the principal (manager) to pressure them into learning, or do we give students brain breaks when needed to reflect and consolidate their understanding to get back into a learning (purchasing) zone?
·         Do we say, “We could probably do something more to help you,” or do we try every possible strategy to help our students during the learning process?
·         When students ask questions about their learning, do we tell them it is not necessary for them to know (only for internal use), or do we provide them with a multitude of suggestions and information to support, better yet, empower them to learn and ask more questions?
·         Do we force students to learn, or do we motivate them while creating a culture that is conducive to taking risks throughout the learning process?

Our camper buying experience varied greatly between these two dealerships.  It was obvious…
Dealer one wanted to make a sale and dealer two wanted to create a situation where we would have a great family experience.  This salesperson at had a genuine passion for selling campers, but more importantly, a calling to support people along the way, helping us to make an informed and comfortable decision.  It was obvious that he enjoyed his job and helping others. 

As you move towards the final couple months of the school year, ask yourself… Are your students feeling pressured or empowered to “buy” what you are “selling?” Do we show genuine warmth and care for our students, exhibiting a genuine passion for our craft - teaching children? 

Make the end of the school year something your students want to “buy,” while giving them the motivation to be empowered to learn throughout the summer!

Enjoy making a difference!

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