The Kids a Got a Simple Lesson in Business Today, But
They Didn't Learn What I Hoped They Would...

modern-conference-callWhat conference calls look like today

Sometimes a home school lesson doesn't turn out the way you want, so you should prepare to roll with the punches and salvage it as best you can. Here's what I mean.

One of the things we like to do in our home school is "teach" the kids about the business world. We figure it's better they get a taste of it early, rather than too late.

Up to this point, most of these lessons are informal and the learning happens through osmosis. 

Today, for instance...

I had a conference call with a group of professionals. I've been a member of this group for a number of years, and I thought it would be interesting for the kids to hear what a conference call is like, and to listen to what professionals talk about.

The kids were just going to be flies-on-the-wall and absorb some adult wisdom.

Not a bad lesson, right?

Well... it didn't turn out like I thought. And shame on me because I should have known better.

When I worked in offices I really, really hated going to "meetings." They were always a waste of time. Everyone agreed they were a waste of time, yet we had them everyday and each week, and then some more for good measure.

(What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again, thinking things will change.)

Conference calls can save some time compared to in-person meetings, but they have many challenges and can be even more frustrating than live meetings.

Here's the lesson my kids got to "listen and learn" from --

My group members live all over the world, so we call on Skype for convenience.

Keep in mind that a lot of the snafus below happen on each and every call. Argh!

  • My kids sat next to me at the kitchen table eating their breakfast in the background. They just had to listen and learn through osmosis;
  • I logged onto Skype for the call;
  • A number of people showed up late;
  • One had trouble connecting to the call, so the MC scrambled to get him on;
  • I kept my mic on mute, unless I was speaking;
  • Most members don't use the mute button, or forget to use it, so...
  • There was a dog barking in the background; we got to hear the owner yell at it to shut up and keep quiet;
  • One member called in from a restaurant; we got to hear dishes and flatware rattle and ring;
  • One, and then two, and then a third phone rang in the background; each one with a more unique and annoying ringtone than the one before it;
  • Of course, there was heavy breathing. There's always heavy breathing;
  • And then at one point, it sounded like someone was unwrapping Halloween candies right next her microphone.

Don't let me forget to mention minor technical difficulties such as:

A few members getting dropped during the call, and the commotion needed to get them back on the call:

     "Ron? Ron? Is he still on, or did he get dropped?"
     "He sent me a text saying he got dropped, and please add him back."
     "How do I add him back? Can someone do it for me?"

The kids found this both comical and horrible.

I don't blame them.

And since they were guests, I became very conscious at how inefficient our calls have become. Kind of like noticing how messy your house is when a guest arrives unannounced.

I found myself apologizing for everyone's behavior on the call, and for how the whole thing was run.

I don't think they learned anything useful, except that meetings are a waste of time!

To salvage this lesson, I will have a chat with them later and go over a few points on running effective meetings, and how my group and I can implement these points to do a better job on future calls.

How have you salvaged a home school lesson? Leave a comment below --


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