Archive for the 'teaching' Category

Food court lessons

chickfila0007

Here’s the scene:  food court in a mall, choir director with 25 hungry high school kids on a field trip.  Everyone has choices about where and what to eat.  Represented at my table were Taco Bell, Sbarro, Saku Japan (my pick), Chick-Fli-A, and few others.

We’re wrapping up the meal when an employee from Chick-Fil-A approaches the student with the Chick-Fil-A meal and offers her a refill on her drink.  As she is leaving with the cup, I make a comment to the kids about going beyond people’s expectations in service and product, and how important it is to get people’s attention by doing what no one else will do (namely, not hiding behind your counter, waiting to be asked for a refill).

Get this:  the Chick-Fil-A lady overhears me, stops, and comes back to our table to ask the rest of us if she can refill our drinks as well.  

My kids are stunned.  I’m giddy.

After the refills were distributed, we talked at length about what just happened, and drew out these lessons:

  1. Forgiveness is a powerful tool in customer relations.  In a real sense, the employee forgave us for not picking her store in the first place, treating us as if we had picked her, as if we were already her customers.  She did not exercise her “right” to deny us the service.
  2. Can you say “leverage?”  Giving away a refill that costs maybe 10¢ in product in a way that will likely produce hundreds of dollars in future sales is “leverage,” class.  That’s L-E-V-E-R-A-G-E, and yes, you’ll be tested on your grasp of this concept for the rest of your life.
  3. Doing flows from being.  Chick-Fil-A is not in the chicken business.  This employee understands that Chick-Fil-A is in the customer-acquisition-and-retention business.  The predicate in Chick-fil-A’s mission statement is a verb of being: “To be America’s best quick-service restaurant at winning and keeping customers.”  This woman wasn’t sleeping through her Chick-Fil-A training classes.
  4. Doing the right thing is more important than getting credit (or a grade) for doing the right thing.  I pointed out to the kids that they were now drinking free Chick-Fil-A product from cups that advertised for Chick-Fil-A’s competition.  Chick-Fil-A had every “right” to get credit for outstanding service, but this employee was more interested in actually providing the service than in getting the credit.  
  5. Advertising (or advocacy) is good, but doing the right thing by people is much more effective at changing minds.

It’s not exactly easy to impress high schoolers, but this Chick-Fil-A associate had the undivided attention of some saucer-eyed kids with a lifetime of purchasing power ahead of them.  

(If Chick-Fil-A’s paying attention, look up the manager at the Hamilton Place Mall’s food court during Friday’s lunch hour.  It’s promotion time for the blonde who gets it.)

Also, if you’re a CFA fan, you’ll love this.

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On Conferences and Jubilees

I’m in Nashville for the rest of the week, attending the Tennessee Music Educator’s Association annual conference in conjunction with the All-State band and chorus clinics.  Ostensibly I’m “chaperoning” 3 of my kids who made All-State choir this year, but that’s akin to holding my yard accountable for growing grass.  They get a cursory check-in from me just so I can confirm they’re still alive and the lawn’s not on fire.

Last year this conference saved my sanity–I was in the throes of my first semester teaching high school chorus and not certain I’d survive the experience.  Getting away from the choir room and hanging out with fellow chorus teachers (many of whom were my classmates at UT back in the day) was so helpful and so refreshing.  It refilled my hope-bucket!

It reminds me of many, many Arts Conferences at Willow Creek that kept me in the game during my worship pastor days, so much so that I have to wonder if the main value of these conferences isn’t the content so much as the environment.  Being away from what’s “normal,” whether it’s schedule- or duty-wise or simply being in a different city, may be all it takes to reset the system back to hopeful joy in the “normal” flow of life.  

It’s a sabbath, a jubilee for people who don’t normally do sabbaths or jubilees.

I miss my normal, but am still so glad to be here.  Let some other people do the teaching for two days.  Let someone else lead the worship at Powell Church on Sunday.

I will simply rest and receive.

Until Monday….

West High Choir Guy–the Blog!

After weeks of pondering and fretting (you can read the short version here), I’ve decided to go the two-blog route.  Vaguely Familiar will stay live and kicking as my personal blog, and West High Choir Guy will be the “official” blog for my choral teacher position at WHS. 

Here are the parameters:

  • The Choir Guy blog will be about the choral program at WHS, not about the kids and not about me.  It’ll be a resource for parents, students, and folks in the community.  I’ll post information about performances, course content, trip logs, and fundraising on that site. 
  • Choir Guy will never link or refer to Vaguely Familiar.
  • The Vaguely Familiar blog will be where I talk about teaching, church, politics, me, etc.  If there’s something interesting happening on the Choir Guy blog I may point to it from Vaguely Familiar.
  • Entries from both blogs will appear on my Facebook page.
  • Specific students will not be mentioned by name or implication in Vaguely FamiliarChoir Guy will highlight specific students only if it’s in reference to an award or a picture caption.

Enjoy!  I’ll try to pick up the posting pace.


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