Yesterday, I mentioned the back of the room crowd in presentations and some of the behaviors that you see.  For example, newspaper reading, crosswords, grading papers, texting, etc.  The question is, “What should be the response to this behavior?”

First, leadership must be in attendance.  When leadership is present, staff participation is noticeably increased.  When leadership is absent, so is staff attention.

Second, if leadership is in attendance, it cannot ignore the overt off-task behavior. Leadership must recognize the behavior for what it actually is… disrespect to everyone in the room.  To address the behavior, leadership has three choices.

1. Give the offending party the “death stare.”

2. Go sit with the offending party.

3. At the next break, go talk to the person. Tell them to put away their distracter and at least fake like they are interested.

Beginning when I was as an assistant principal, I did all three. Then it didn’t take long for my reputation to precede me and the issue became more and more rare.

As a presenter, you have two choices, ignore the behavior or address the behavior.  I do both.  If the person is good at hiding the off-task behavior, I’ll let it slide. But there are those who make a production of being disinterested and off task. I’ll start by moving to present right by them. The Power Zone works on adults also.  If that doesn’t work, at my next turn and talk, I’ll quietly tell the person that if they if they have something more pressing to do that they have my permission to leave and go do it.  Interestingly, of the handful of people (less than 10) that I had made this offer to, no one has taken me up on it. Though one teacher did complain to her principal, claiming, “I have never been treated so unprofessionally in my entire career.”

I’ll take the irony with a side of clueless, thank you.

Think. Work. Achieve. Your turn…

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