Sunday, May 14, 2006

100 to 1 hardly seems fair

I started teaching my first full class at INSEAD last week, ponderously titled “Venture Opportunity and Business Model.” The goal of the class is to help MBA students create, evaluate and improve new business ideas.

I have a little over 100 students signed up for the class, which means that I am teaching back to back sessions of 50 students each. I lecture for 90 minutes, pant for 15 minutes, then lecture for another 90 minutes.

Although I have been teaching as a guest lecturer now for over 6 months at INSEAD, the experience of having full responsibility for a class makes this a completely different gig. As a guest lecturer, you waltz in, spout off for a bit, then waltz out, leaving the professor who invited you to try to shoehorn whatever you said into the rest of the course material.

Being in charge of doing the shoehorning is a big responsibility. Staring into the faces of 50 students waiting to be taught something useful is something like being a mamma bird faced with 50 open beaks – where do you find enough worms to feed them all?

There is kind of a secret pact that the teacher and the class make – I’ll put a lot of energy into this if you put a lot of energy in as well. When the pact works, everything is wonderful. When it doesn’t, I’m left feeling like I’m pulling a freight train uphill all by myself.

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