Teaching my graduate Marketing Strategy class (see Day 81: I Got A Job!) has been fabulous, at least for me. I’m hoping it the others in the room are actually learning something. The students are all great people, however, there are only 8 of them. (I only started out with ten. Lost one before we even began and the other due to English skills.)
There have been a couple of cultural issues that have surfaced during this experience. First, a few of the students would just start up a side conversation during class either when I or another student was speaking. Of course, I would put a quick end to it, but I couldn’t imagine doing this during a class, especially in such a small crowd. If I had dared during one of my MBA courses, the professor would have just kicked me right out of the room. I mentioned this to the group. They straight out told me that it was cultural and that’s how they roll. Of course, we all agreed that’s not how we were going to roll on my time.
One thing they do NOT do (much) is sit on their blackberries during the class. Which I really appreciate. I can’t even count how many meetings in the U.S. during which I’ve sat next to someone who spent the entire time emailing while someone else was giving a presentation or discussing an issue. RUDE AMERICANS.
Second, there have been times when people just don’t show up for class. While a couple have preceded this with an explanatory email, others don’t. One guy didn’t come the first two weeks (I hold one 3 hour class per week) without explanation, or a return email when I contacted him to find out if he was ever going to show. Again, I would never have considered being a “no show” for a three hour class, especially if it would be so obvious I was missing due to class size, without advanced notice and excuses. In their defense, this is an executive program and these people have full-time jobs. I can definitely understand getting caught up in work. But considering 25% of their grade is class participation, for a situation like that I’ll let them make up the time with an extra assignment if they let me know.
This kind of behavior is referred to as “cabular aula.” On Day 153 of my challenge to be more Brazilian, I pulled a “cabular aula” myself.
My class is scheduled for Wednesdays, but due to a metro strike (see Day 144: Metro Strike) there was a traffic situation bad enough to cancel the class. So it was rescheduled for this past Friday night. We were leaving for Rio that night, and I assumed that no one was going to want to be kicking off their weekend in a classroom, so I had planned an early end. I had already lost two by the previous Wednesday class. The evening of the class, about midway through, I strategically gave them class time to work on their final project. Two left shortly after. But the remaining four decided to use the time appropriately and bust a move together on their presentation and marketing plan, due on Wednesday. Aye, aye, aye. By 9:30pm I abandoned them, 30 minutes early.
Not so professional but quite a bit Brazilian.