As summer is winding down educators are going back to school and that means “back to school workshops” for most of us. Recently I sat through a two day session to to learn how to use some new technology in our district.
Yeah, sat through is what I meant to say.
We literally sat…for hours…not touching the new technology we are supposed to start using in a few weeks.
Not talking about how we could use it in our classrooms.
Not putting together ideas to see what the interface was like.
Not making mistakes.
Not getting stuck.
Not helping each other.
Sitting. Watching (some times). Listening (once in a while).
At this point let me say a few things….
The presenters were very well intentioned and most of the crowd didn’t expect anything different from the presentation. Also, the presenters (I am pretty sure) were never trained to present, they are teachers and we asked to do the training. Last and definitely not least, I know I am guilty of “death by powerpoint” and I am not always the dynamic presenter that I want to be.
But I am working on it.
A few things my mentor taught me…
1. There is a huge difference between Androgogy and pedagogy. The whole clapping your hands thing works to adults attention if you have a room of Kindergarten teachers, otherwise don’t try it. Remember – Those are adults (grown-ups) and they need to be treated that way.
2. Everyone learns at their own pace and in their own way. If somebody in your presentation isn’t hanging on your every word it’s probably ok. Let them play, process, work things out. If they are bored give them premission to “unbored” themselves but remind them to check in once in a while. Value and respect their time, they might already “get it”.
3. Almost everyone needs time to actually work/play/mess around with whatever it is you are trying to teach them. You can’t just stand there and show them, let your people participate! I think this goes back to something from the Game of School. Many teachers were successful in a school where they sat in neat rows and “learned” by having someone in the front of the room give them information. While this works somewhat, is it the BEST way to do things?
4. Finally, and this goes back to #1, don’t read your slides to me. We are grown-ups remember, tell me what’s NOT on the slide. Related note: If you say,”OK, this is important” it tells your audience that all the other stuff wasn’t important so they are wondering why you were wasting their time. Just give us the important stuff.
I really don’t mean this to be negative, but do want to bring attention to boring presentations. I honestly think most presenters are doing the best can and as well as they know how to. And I am not a professional presenter by any means. I was lucky to meet someone who taught me a few of these ideas and I want to pass them on.