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July 19, 2007

The Cool of the Evening

"He [Johnny Sain] used to say a pitcher had a kind of special feeling after he did really well in a ballgame. John called it the 'cool of the evening', when you could sit and relax and not worry about being in there for three or four more days; the job was done, a good job, and now it was up to someone else to go out there the next day and do the slogging. The cool of the evening."

- from Ball Four by Jim Bouton

One of the most different parts about my job in Engineering Excellence is the teaching. For example, yesterday and today I had a course on "Development at Microsoft for Expert Developers", 3 hours yesterday and 4 1/2 today. I enjoy the teaching but it is still tiring to be in front of people for long stretches of time. So I always feel a sense of relaxation when I'm done. You thank the students, they file out, you clean up the name tents, recycle the unused handouts and leftover polystyrene cups, put the chairs back in order...it's usually just you in the room and you're putting things back in order, plus you've just finished teaching, and for a few days you won't have another class. Sometimes I linger in the tidied-up room for a few moments just enjoying the calm. I was discussing this with another person on my team and he said he had the same feeling whenever he finished a course.

In general we have good students in our courses, who want to be there, are engaged, and recognize that the more they pay attention, the more they get out of the course. Nonetheless there can be problem students, which is why there are books for trainers with titles like Dealing with Difficult Participants, which another trainer just sent me a copy of. It talks about archetypes like The Preoccupied, The Domineering, The Know-It-All, The Skeptic, and The Sleeper (one of those probably covers a unique-to-Microsoft persona, The Laptop and Wireless Network User). Any one of them can soak up a lot of your energy and also detail others in the class. If you were in my Experts class the last few days then fear not, you were a good class. But I did have a problem where an Architect I had invited to do Q&A had to cancel at the last minute due to a personal emergency. Luckily I found a replacement on short notice, so that went well. And I just sent out the post-class email, so I'm pretty much all set (I still have to add the attendees to a post-class alias, but that won't take long). Next week I'm teaching a different course all week...but for now I can enjoy the cool of the evening.

Posted by AdamBa at July 19, 2007 11:41 PM

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I never minded the sleeper. Unless they snore, of course, in which case you have to do something like wake them (and having them deny they were asleep. For the last 15 or 20 years I have fallen asleep at almost every lecture, unfortunately.

IMy most serious problems came in engineering course, where the back rows were a constant and unstoppable buzz of conversation.

Posted by: marble chair at July 20, 2007 06:06 AM

"For the last 15 or 20 years I have fallen asleep at almost every lecture"

Really? And the students don't mind?

By the way I meant "derail", not "detail".

- adam

Posted by: Adam Barr at July 20, 2007 12:52 PM