Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram enable us to share every small detail about our lives with our friends and family. This might be fun in our personal lives but sharing too much in the classroom might pose a problem. Once we establish a rapport with our learners, we want to maintain a positive, comfortable learning environment. If we share certain things with our classes we might inadvertently create a negative learning environment. Creating a positive learning environment is one of many adult learning principles we teach in our workshop, How Adults Learn. What does a positive learning environment really mean?
It means making people feel confident and positive about learning new things. Remember the last time you were a beginner at anything? What did it feel like? Some of the adjectives I would use are: nerve-racking, overwhelming, scary, intimidating, and stressful. In addition to starting our courses with brainteasers, icebreakers, introductions, and snacks to make people feel comfortable, we want to instruct our learners in a manner that is respectful and fun.
To create a sense of community among our groups we encourage our learners to share their ideas, feelings, examples, and mistakes with one another. Everyone feels like they are in “the same boat,” and people relax and learn from one another.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter where we share everything, there are three things instructors should rarely, or never, share with their students.
1. While there are a few exceptions to this, never let people know you’ve made a mistake. They can see and/or hear it so you don’t need to bring extra attention to yourself. This is especially magnified in the virtual classroom. Just move right along and the class will quickly forget about your mistake.
2. Never complain about the design of the course you are teaching or say, “Well, I did not design this course.” If you say this in front of your class you are hurting your credibility and professionalism as an instructor.
3. Never promise you will end class early. If, for some reason you cannot end the class early, you may again lose credibility with your students. Given the agenda, you might suspect the class will end early, just don’t communicate it unless it really happens.
If we avoid these kinds of mistakes, we can continue to maintain a positive learning environment.
Over the years, what have you learned to avoid sharing with your learners?