Getting Classroom Volunteers

“If I just ask for a volunteer, my students sit on their hands and look away. You’ve been there. You can almost feel your back muscles tense as you think, Oh please, don’t call on me.

So I don’t ask. Instead, I say, ‘In case you’re worried about volunteering to role-play with me in front of the class, I want to tell you in advance . . . it’s going to be horrible.’

After the laughter dies down, I then say, ‘And those of you who do volunteer will probably get more out of this than anyone else.’

I always end up with more volunteers than I need.

Now, look at what I did there: I prefaced the conversation by labeling my audience’s fears; how much worse can something be than ‘horrible’? I defuse them and wait, letting it sink in and thereby making the unreasonable see less forbidding.’

Great words of wisdom from Chris Voss in his book, Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if your life depended on it. He was teaching a room full of hostage negotiators but there are great implications here for teachers of all subject areas and ages.

Books aimed at teachers are great but you can learn a lot about our profession by expanding beyond the educational aisle of your library or bookstore. I often find little lessons like this in the various non-fiction, and sometimes even fiction, books I read. And I am glad I could share them with you here.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – inspiration from my classroom to yours