Have you been to Best Buy lately? Previously rumored to be at the end of their corporate existence due to giants like Amazon and the near evaporation of CD sales and other revenue streams, Best Buy holds its own, having actually rebounded. It is surprisingly a happy place to go shopping.
Why does this stand out? At this stage in my teaching career, I have three questions that haunt:
- How do I be the best parent I can be with my own kids in my school? That means balances of work/life and a tricky walk of what is personal and public.
- How do I keep up the energy (physical and emotional) to be the teacher each kid needs? Dang, this job is exhausting, and this body is aging.
- And how do I remain relevant? How do I keep evolving, keep learning? How do I stay true to me, to my roots, to what I know works while I also keep challenging my concepts, keep folding new skills in, and keep questioning what I know?
I am thinking Best Buy did a lot of thinking on that #3 question, and I can learn from them.
First, focus. Best Buy has a lot less stuff around. Yeah, that’s because it wasn’t selling (CDs) and its inventory management, but it is also freeing. With less there, I can focus more. I can navigate the store better and I certainly feel more comfortable. For my classroom, keep remembering less is more. Two days on a poem in depth can be worth it. Stop crowding the content or the kids.
Second, be there. Why do I go to Best Buy? Because a real human is going to show up pretty quickly. I find it ironic I now read Amazon reviews and then go to BestBuy. Visits used to be the other order, but a real human– that is worth paying for. In the classroom, be there. Don’t be at my desk doing email or (yep, admin, I know you don’t like this one) attendance. Just be in the moment, being present.
Third, listen. When we were contemplating our purchase, the sales rep listened. Listened without judgement and without selling. He heard what we wanted, he knew we had opted out of some features and he didn’t pressure. He answered every question without make us feel stupid or silly. Every classroom question is valid. What a student doesn’t know or a skill not in place is not a time for judgement, but something to address, fill in, and practice.
Last, provide options but not too many options I recognize there is paralysis in too many choices. Best Buy had a couple options that worked for us, so there was choice, but not meaningless choice. And then there were choices on how and where to check out and how to get a receipt. These are small details, but when I watch teachers still try to control the minutia of the classroom, I think nah. The right number of choices, the right amount of flexibility– yep. That’s sweet.
But in reality, I think what made the Best Buy visit better was the simple fact our sales person seemed happy. Genuinely happy to help. Authentically knowledgeable. I am my classroom. My happiness, my attitude makes or breaks the day.
Yep, I am getting old. I am that experienced veteran teacher, but, like Best Buy, I can keep my core and adapt. And I can do it all with a smile.