Gettin’ Jiggy With It

I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of classroom training the last few weeks. To be more precise, over the last 14 days I’ve taught more than 40 people everything from hypothesis testing to the different types of pull systems used during lean implementations.

The students have been fabulous and a true joy to teach… but that’s not the point of this article.

You see, while teaching these classes I was reminded of how important it is to just chill out and have some fun. Allow me to explain.

Teaching Stats is Boring

Teaching statistics to a bunch of Black Belts is not always exhilarating. There’s some math and, for some, that isn’t much fun.

Well, during one of the harder lessons on Advanced DOE (Response Surface Optimization) I decided to shake things up a bit… and by shake I really do mean shake.

Half way through this lesson we were transitioning into the teeth of the concept and I knew some students would be intimidated.

Getting’ Jiggy With It!

To counter this, I inserted a funny slide with the picture of a crazy dog dancing summarizing how we were going to take things to the next level. In other words we were about to “get jiggy with it!”

I also had Will Smith’s song “Getting’ Jiggy with It” automatically play when the dog picture appear. To add additional shock factor I asked one of my colleagues to come to the front of the room before the slide (and music) played.

Once he and I were in position I transitioned to the slide… as the music started to play we both started to dance like true fools for about 15 seconds.

My colleague attempted a form of the “sprinkler” and only the good Lord knows what my little dance moves should be called. As an aside, I’m the guy on the right in the picture above… and to protect the innocent I’ve blurred out my colleagues face so he doesn’t shoot me. Ha!

Total Engagement

But here’s the thing… once the class got over the shock of what was happening they exploded into applause. And I really mean exploded!

And most importantly… the class was totally engaged and ready to learn. They were having a tremendous amount of fun and things went far better than I ever expected with the teaching of Response Surface Designs.

The True Lesson

The true lesson for me was to never forget how powerful a little shock and extreme laughter can be.

If you are a consultant or trainer of any kind I strongly encourage you to stop taking yourself so seriously. You’re not a professor attempting to make people fall asleep. And chances are good that the material you’re presenting is pretty boring. Sorry, but it’s true.

So, don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. And don’t be afraid to act like a fool for 15 seconds. It just might engage your students like never before!

Do you agree?

7 Comments

  1. Sherry Reynolds

    August 2, 2010 - 12:34 pm

    I totally agree! Teaching adults is not easy and I can only imagine how much this class enjoyed your little show. By the way, it looks like you were attempting one of those horse riding dance move things. Hee hee!

  2. Charles Jordan

    August 2, 2010 - 8:25 pm

    Classic! Who says white guys can’t dance.

  3. Ray McBeth

    August 3, 2010 - 6:33 am

    I agree that shaking up a group can have positive results. Doing an activity that is related to the subject matter is even better. In my training efforts I have people flip sets of coins to “see” probability, throw darts to look at variation and
    centering and measure parts that they actually produced to understand measurement error.

  4. Mark R Hamel

    August 3, 2010 - 6:35 am

    Ron,

    I was hoping for video!

    Yes, you’ve got to have fun. The objective is to learn and my research has shown that folks who are in a coma do not absorb new learning very readily. Kudos to you.

  5. Shana Padgett

    August 3, 2010 - 7:43 am

    I agree completely. I haven’t tried spontaneous dancing and will be sure to add to my lecture sessions. While teaching a very labor intensive and stressful practical laboratory techniques course, I found that humming a tune while walking between lab stations, and providing that minor bit of distraction and humor, really improved the students’ technical ability and attitude. My favorites were “Jingle Bells” or “Tainted Love” – everybody knows the tune and can play along!

  6. Blake

    August 3, 2010 - 10:07 am

    Oh Ron…. LOL 😀

    This was truly a sigth to see! Thanks for being a fun and energetc teacher. That week of training was was hard core! However, moments like this, when you and your counterpart let loose and danced…. well… it was priceless! Thanks for your always energetic and fun teaching style.