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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

Better than the Last Time

I was really excited when I was first given the opportunity to teach a university course.


I already knew I liked to teach: Kaplan had offered me a job as a part-time Instructor after I scored really well on my GMAT, and I taught there for 8.5 years... just for fun.


And I was already familiar with the theory I'd be teaching because I had over 15 years of experience putting that theory into practice at several world-class companies.


But I really wanted to be successful, so I worked really hard to get ready for the class.


I thoroughly reviewed all the academic articles on which my lectures would be based and took careful notes. I found interesting, real-world examples to bring the lessons to life. I wrote speaker notes for my slides so I wouldn't forget any key points. I even rehearsed a few parts of my lectures in front of a mirror, just to see how I looked while delivering the content.


I hoped it would be enough.


It wasn't.


The course evaluation I received at the end of the term showed that on almost every metric, my students had scored me below the Department average.


"Too many readings", "assignments are too difficult", "Instructor grades unfairly"... the list of transgressions was long. In fact, there were only two questions where I scored above the Department average: "The Instructor was organized and well-prepared" and "The Instructor showed enthusiasm for the subject."


I wasn't happy with my results. And I promised myself that the next time I taught a course, I'd do better.


Better than the last time, at least.


"Better than the last time" has become a mantra for me. I'm a recovering perfectionist who years ago realized that if your goal is perfection, you'll avoid trying new things that might fail... and that ultimately makes you worse. Progress, not perfection, is what's required.


I can't control how my students rate me.


But I can work to be consistently knowledgeable about the subjects I teach, consistently prepared to communicate in a clear and compelling way, and consistently available to help when my students have questions. That's what I'll continue to do.


And hopefully, with every class I teach, I'll do it better than the last time.

 

I taught a course this term, and yesterday was the final class.


Whenever I teach, I like to invite amazing people from my network to join my classes and share their expert insights with my students.


So I want to take this opportunity to thank the generous individuals who agreed to join me this term: Dennis Gorya and Don Clark (Store Layout & Design), Beth McNeil and Lia Grimberg (Loyalty & Retention) Adam Levinter and Jason Badal (Direct-to-Consumer / Subscription Businesses), and Carl Boutet, Mathieu Robitaille, Ivan Pehar, and Kelly Saltzman (my "Future of Retail" panellists).


Friends, you definitely made things better than the last time - thank you.


Lastly, thanks to my amazing students for remaining engaged throughout the term, and best of luck in your careers!

Note: my class this term actually had 32 students, but these folks were the ones who agreed to participate in my "class photo" tradition and allow me to publish it on this blog.

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