Benchmarking to a Moscow band

Sometimes you can take some aspect of a business and compare your business to that. The two businesses may be quite different but there may be some function of the business that can be compared. I do this, too.

In Moscow I had some friends who had a band. They were going to perform and invited me to a big concert. Many bands were going to perform. My friends looked good and sang and played well. I was impressed. After they finished, this straggly young guy got on the stage and I thought he was going to sweep it but he had no broom. I was surprised when he walked over to the microphone and called to the control booth to start the music. Then he began singing. His voice was not remarkable, it was suitable. But somehow he reached out and grabbed our hearts and minds and had us all clapping our hands and dancing in our seats. It was all in Russian and I didn’t understand a single word but he was the star of the show. I was thrilled!

How I use it:

Technical perfection is not the important thing. We can maybe look good and teach well and appeal to our students’ intellect. But I think a great teacher can reach out and grab hearts and minds. I think great teachers can distract students from all their distractions and capture students so completely that they fall under the spell of the lesson. That Russian singer is my benchmark for teaching. I am seldom successful at hitting this mark but I think even hitting halfway is beneficial to my students. Along with his spirit and enthusiasm that so moved me, I noticed how he got us clapping by showing us to clap. When we joined him in clapping we were no longer passive observers but we were active. From this I learned it is important to get my students’ bodies involved in the class. Make them get up and change partners, get up and join others to form a group, and they will be more active. I don’t let them pairwork with the person sitting next to them because their attitude and spirit will be too passive. My first task is to activate my students’ hearts and minds. If they are activated, they can learn anything. If they are not activated, they can learn nothing.


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