A student of mine once told me something simple yet very inspiring: “I like Mandarin because in the first meetings, our teacher didn’t go straight to the lesson, but introduced us to the Chinese culture. We watched films about Chinese traditions and customs. This sparked my interest to study the language.”

How true. Have you ever fancied doing that? When starting a new day with your co-workers, students, or staff, instead of getting straight into the main business, you take them to a seemingly off-the-course trip. You can spend the first half of an hour telling and listening to life stories, bantering, discussing celebrity gossips, or the like. It will lighten the atmosphere, induce something unique, and, strengthen the bonds.

I have never seen this done by a superior, or a teacher. Which is exactly why it is more worth trying.

I decided to have a go with this approach at the briefing of new lecturers. I spent the first fifteen minutes doing the ice breaking by guessing their names, recounting a story, and asking them how much teaching experience they had. I succeeded in creating lighter mood.

At the end of the session, I collected the evaluation sheets from them, and eagerly went through them to find out their opinions about my approach. I was expecting to see compliments from all of them for the way I opened the session.

I found one stating this: “I like the way you enliven the class atmosphere.”

But another one wrote this: “You spent too long doing the introduction. (As a result) there was only little time left at the end for the remaining materials”.

Ha ha ha, there is the lesson for me. The world is never black or white; it’s always gray. It is certainly black at this moment; you blink and suddenly it turns white.

But think about it once again: a good foreplay never hurts 🙂

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