etiquette question

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I have an awkward situation at work and wondered if anyone might have suggestions.    3 days a week I'm having a very hard time starting my class on time.  We have 10 minutes between classes, but the prof who teachers before me takes a very long time exiting the room.  Part of the problem seems to be that 2 of my students are in his class as well as mine, so they don't leave the room.   He chats with other students or with them, and takes a while to gather up all his books and materials on the way out.   He's a rather elderly Italian gentleman and quite charming, but I'm never sure how to handle the situation.  There was a day last week in which he wasn't out of the classroom until nearly 8 minutes after my class had started!  I started passing out my handouts and even talking to the students before he left, since we had a guest speaker who'd arrived.   Today the door of the classroom was closed and a few students were still talking to him when I ushered my students into the classroom at about a minute before.  I feel rude doing this, which is ludicrous, I know....   Any suggestions on how to handle the situation?   I don't want to offend him, but I'm worried about the time I'm losing with my students, too.

Why don't you talk to him?

Is his course in the same department as yours?

Certainly talk with him.  Let him know that you appreciate his working with students after class, and that's a good thing.  But, you need the classroom to begin what is some important material.  So, please move your conversations out into the hallway.

My wife calls this the "no" sandwich.  As long as you have some meat in the middle, the point is usually picked up.

Dear Anon,

Is he actually FROM Italy?  Part of this might be cultural; Italians struggle to end the conversation and get moving.  The norm is to say lots of charming things that let things down gently, and in stages.

I taught Italian for a good while and the teacher after me was a German teacher who taught German.  I finally asked him to write for me on a notecard how do you say "I am Italian and we can't tell time; please forgive us for not exiting properly" in German.  He had, for his notecard, "This is our classroom now; we are German and we will begin on time" that I wrote for him in our language.  This was hilarious, as he sounded like something from a bad WWII movie when he read from his card (and my students laughed uproariously at it) and then when I tried for the German, it just was wretched.  It sounded like incredibly strange Italian spoken by someone with an impediment.  And it was good, because then the students (both of the groups) could see how silly their teachers sounded in a new and "foreign" language.

I tell this anecdote because I wonder if you could think of a humorous way to get around this.  I am absolutely certain that this man, especially if he is actually from Italy, means you no disrespect or malice.  I think if you can maybe find someone who knows this professor, and ask how is a good way to approach him, then you can find some way that is funny yet gracious and he will get the hint.  However, you will probably always need to be a little pushy to get him out of the room because it is the Italian way to sort of drag on the conversation a bit at time to end things.  German and French professors end on time and leave on time; the Spanish ones and Italians do not...and maybe then next semester you will have good luck and be after one of them.  :)

Good luck to you--



Principessa's comment is a delight.



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