The teacher who understood the value of “Coming Next…”

After all these years I still remember some of my school teachers, a few for happy reasons, others less-positively. In this last respect there was, for instance, an English master who regularly responded to bad behaviour in the back row of his classroom with an energetically-lobbed blackboard eraser.

The jury was out on whether or not he was a good shot, as the chalky missile invariably thudded into the wall rather than the pupil, but I rather suspect this was fully intended – a kind of shock and awe approach rather than downright physical violence.

I suppose the fact that I now spend a great deal of my days writing may be testament to the fact that he obviously did me some good, but it may have simply been because I tended to avoid sitting in the back row.


Fortunately other teachers made their mark for less combative reasons. One who taught Geography, for instance, was a genius at making the subject interesting and compelling, especially when it came to physical geography. To this day, I’m always on the look-out for a good terminal moraine when I’m on a train journey.

He had one little technique that I especially admired, which was that at the end of each well-paced lesson he’d provide his class with a short teaser about what would be coming next time we met. I’m sure he believed that this way we’d be keenly anticipating the next instalment of the curriculum. He was right.

It’s always good to have things to look forward to, but there are sure to be less-positive times in life when, unless you plan things yourself, it can seem as if the future is pretty devoid of goals and anticipation. And that’s never more so than when your mood is low.

At times like this you’re unlikely to be planning anything ambitious, but it’s definitely worth trying to set yourself some modest goals. Get through the morning and treat yourself to something tasty and healthy at lunchtime. Make it through the afternoon, then read a chapter of a good book, do a crossword puzzle, walk round the block or make a phone call.

You owe it to yourself to have one or two simple things to look forward to, even if you need to create them out of nothing.

2 thoughts on “The teacher who understood the value of “Coming Next…”

  1. Excellent advice, Jon. This year will be a challenging one for me in many regards, especially with regard to a major health concern I wasn’t anticipating before this month. Having a set of realistic goals to work on so as not to feel hopeless about the future is a great idea. Thanks for sharing. And it’s good to see you posting again.

  2. Speaking as a former grammar school teacher…
    Without calling attention to the students, (because part of their behavior is to attracting attention)…Assign to the entire class, don’t call attention to the cause(s) of the assignment , to assign the entire class to write about their response to the situation. Give the job of grading the class’s papers to the students to the students on the back row of the room.

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