classroom best practices

Focus on the 80%

When I first started teaching Master Educator classes, Letha Barnes (my step-mother) gave me some great advice.  She said that when it came time to reading through the evaluations to recognize that 10% of the room was going to love me no matter what I did.  They just love learning, they love me, they love everything about it.  Then, there will be 10% of the room who doesn’t enjoy it.  They aren’t happy about giving up a Sunday to be in continuing education, they won’t like your accent, they won’t like the topic, and/or they won’t like the environment. Letha’s advice was to stop worrying about the top 10% of the evaluations or the bottom 10% of the evaluations, but to focus on the 80%.  Those were the people that I was teaching to. They were the ones that I could reach and inspire to take action.  I have trusted that advice for the past 20 years and it’s never let me down.

I believe we can take the same advice and apply it to our schools and our students.  There are the 10% of the students who we love.  They do anything asked of them and they never complain.  They are anxious to learn and get excited about every topic.  They will jump in and help out with any situation.  Then, there are the other 10%.  Those students who are not happy about being in school.  They don’t want to learn no matter what we do.  They disrupt the learning process and it becomes all about them.  Then, there are the remaining 80%.  Those are the students who will often push the rules to see what they can get away with, but the minute we hold them accountable, they do what they are supposed to do. They are the students that, with a little bit of encouragement, will become excited to learn and try new things.  They are the students who we can inspire to take action.

The challenge I see in educators is that we have really big hearts and we want 100% of our students to buy into how amazing the beauty and wellness industry is.  So we focus on the bottom 10% and constantly strive to get them excited about school. It is exhausting and will drain us of our energy, often at the expense of the other 80%.  My advice is to begin to focus on being inspiring, encouraging and engaging with the 80%.  Don’t forget about that other 20%, but focus on the 80%.  Who knows, you might just drag some of that 10% up!

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Lisha Barnes

Lisha Barnes

Lisha Barnes is a Cosmetology/Barber Instructor with over 25 years of experience. She started out in a small private school working in Admissions, Financial Aid, Education, and School Director. She was a Director of Education for a chain of Private Cosmetology schools. Currently she serves as the Academic Development Manager for Milady where she supports schools and educators around the nation with continuing education, curriculum development and product knowledge. Lisha has served as an Educator for Milady’s Career Institute; NACCAS Commission; Career Educators of America Committee Member; and has authored numerous writing projects for Milady. This industry experience allows her to see the industry from a variety of viewpoints, which helps in sharing information and ideas with educators all around the world.