Brandon Peters is teaching a class about mediation this semester at Florida A&M University College of Law. He brings more than two decades of experience as a highly-respected civil litigator to his mediation career, which began with a successful solo practice and continues with Upchurch Watson White & Max. He takes a data- and evidence-driven approach to resolving disputes without ignoring the all-important human factors. To schedule a mediation with Brandon, please call his case manager, Cathy McCleary, at (800) 863-1462, or visit our online calendar.
Mediator Brandon S. Peters
My takeaway from Week 8 had nothing to do with my students or the classroom. Instead, I learned about the professional bond shared by the international community of educators. After writing about my delivery of a lecture that felt “flat,” I invited my blog readers to provide advice about avoiding letdown after an exciting guest lecture by a veteran crisis negotiator. I received a great number of responses from teachers all over the world. Here are four of my favorites:
- Brandon, as a Seahawks fan, I know something about letdown. Two things occur to me to deal with the situation you describe; you can build on the great thing that just ended, or accept that life has bumps and ride them out. Is there a way you could deconstruct the negotiator’s presentation enough to show how it dovetailed with your mediation presentation? In your analogy of the field trip to the zoo, could the teacher have used that experience to build a math lesson. How many animals can occupy how many square feet? Or you do not avoid it, but plow through the tiresomeness of it. Life is not all puppies and rainbows. Look forward to time in the near future when you can recover the momentum. There’s always next season for Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch, and Richard Sherman to take back the Super Bowl trophy.
- This, Brandon, is the essential challenge of teaching. If you aren’t going home exhausted, then you aren’t working hard enough! After a particularly exciting presentation (or field trip) it serves well to capture from your students what excited them … and then find ways to help them pursue what may well be a new found passion … for the subject matter, or for the field represented by the speaker. Isn’t that the reason we bring in a speaker in the first place? I always found if I did the same things the same way, the end result suffered. It is important to find newness in every lesson … after all the material is old to you, but new to your students. We owe them that much.
- A few years ago, I taught ESL to adults at night school. I understand your frustration in “losing the audience.” I found it helpful to reengage the students by including their personal stories and experiences into the lesson itself. While you don’t want to overwhelm your lecture with side stories and the like, you can elevate the level of interest by getting class-wide participation from the students. It’s a fine line to walk between complete chaos and complete control — both of which will lower student comprehension of the subject. With more classroom experience, you will master this skill of pupil interaction.
- Don’t think of the audience as a “repeat audience.” An actor playing the same part in a long run of a show goes on stage every night, but for the audience it’s a new experience. Sounds as if you have to convince yourself how important, exciting, vital and necessary your material (which you know all too well) is, and feel, as if for the first time, the excitement of imparting it to a new audience. The pianist Maurizio Pollini, whom I admire tremendously, has a way of playing Beethoven that makes it sound as if the piece has never been played before, although the piece in question may be an old war horse everyone’s heard hundreds of times.
To everyone who took the time to reply to my request for input, I am humbled by your helpful insights. Please accept my gratitude.
For the previous installment of Brandon’s adventures at FAMU, please click here.