It’s that time of year where school leaders and committees are gearing up for the beginning of the school year, with hours upon hours of teacher and staff professional development.
In many school districts, teachers go back to work one to three weeks before their students arrive. New teachers in the school district tend to go back before the returning teachers do.
Then it happens. Every year. Teachers are exposed to endless PowerPoint presentations.
A buddy of mine, Dr. Chris Gurrie, EdD, is an expert in communication, public speaking, and training activities. He is a professor at The University of Tampa, travels around the world giving public speeches, and is a contributor for HuffPost.
Chris’ experiences with bad PowerPoints is that it’s disrespectful. In fact, Chris wrote about it in a 2015 article titled, IS YOUR POWERPOINT DISRESPECTFUL?
“It disrespects my time, it disrespects my intelligence, and it disrespects the presenter’s own intelligence. This speaker knew he was committing PowerPoint atrocities and he went ahead and did so anyway.”Dr. Chris Gurrie, EdD
Chris goes on reeling on the idea that we let this happen. The fact that we attend meetings and actually stay through the awful experiences of bad speakers.
“I do not believe it is out of respect that we do not say anything to the presenter, because looking around a room of bored audience members finds them on their cell phones and laptops fully disrespecting presenters anyway. So, why do we continue this dance? It floors me that we allow ourselves to sit through horrible presentations where we learn nothing and retain very little.”Dr. Chris Gurrie, EdD
Teachers sit through PowerPoints every year and no one says anything! Our body language sure does, but, in my experience, leadership doesn’t really seem to care in most cases. I mean, they worked so hard putting the fully-loaded presentations together that they expect everyone else to ENJOY their hard work.
Chris is right though! I have always felt disrespected as an educator, adult, and human being after I have sat through irrelevant, boring, useless PowerPoint presentations. In fact, it has gotten so bad that by the time the students arrived for their very first day of the school year, I was already burnt out and exhausted.
How can school districts change the landscape of they professionally develop their teachers and staff?
As Chris indicated, our time is precious and should be respected. Teachers need to, once again, stand up and speak up about what works and doesn’t work, professionally speaking. It really isn’t that complicated. Presentations should be engaging, energetic, and applicable to all audience members.
We have to not stand for our time to be wasted. While I would never advocate disrespecting a presenter, I do advocate that we stand-up for our time—and proceed to the nearest exit. Perhaps that will send a message—no more Death by PowerPoint please.Dr. Chris Gurrie, EdD
In the world of education, I honestly do not see many teachers following through with Chris’ advice. If I was still in the classroom, I’d definitely be the first to stand up, speak up, and possibly exit as fast as I could. However, I already know that this behavior would easily stir controversy within the school and among the staff. Leadership would most likely consider this type of teacher behavior as disrespectful and unprofessional. In most cases, teachers are so used to sitting through bad presentations and willfully keeping their thoughts to themselves because school leaders have become experts in phrases like, “it’s for the kids” or “you’re not a team-player.”
If you’re a school leader or any professional development facilitator/ presenter, be bold, be mindful, and be different. Be the change, dammit.
If you’re a teacher who is most likely going to experience the many bad back to school presentations . . . well, be tactful, be truthful, and make it a teachable moment. You can be the change, too, dammit!
See Chris’ HuffPost article below: