If you are to look back on your learning life, are you able to identify a great teacher? Someone who kept you in school when you felt that you didn’t fit, who demystified maths, or made your fall in love with physics or even poetry?
VidVersity founder Natalie Wieland has created a short video series of these ‘a-ha’ learning experiences. Check out the first of these where Natalie chats to Tom Brockhurst about his ‘a-ha maths’ moment.
I can name a handful of brilliant teachers across a couple of decades of formal education.
So what qualities do these rare great teachers bring to their students?
For an academic overview of ‘good teaching’, you can read this article from UTS.
Here are the key qualities of the great teachers I have encountered.
One size does NOT fit everyone.
The ability to elevate learning from one size fits all (it never does by the way) to the individual needs of students. As a four year old starting school, I remember the moment a school reader suddenly ‘made sense’. My teacher had seen me struggling. She moved with me to the corner of the room and she sat with me as if there was no one else there, and together we unpicked the mystery of the English language. She showed me I already had the tools and once applied, the meaning appeared like magic. She taught to my particular need. She taught with kindness, patience and without judgment.
Passion is irresistible.
All of these teachers were old hands. They had been teaching for decades and yet the fire still burned brightly for each of them. Not just for the subject they taught but for the desire to lift all of their students out of the ordinary. Want to make medieval history the single most exciting subject of the day? My history tutor and lecturer (still teaching I see!) was so passionately engaged in the subject matter it was like walking into a cloud of pheromones. I can recall most of that syllabus years later.
Out of the ordinary.
Each of my great teachers had a particular personality trait that elevated them from the ordinary. Extraordinary patience and kindness, eccentricity, the rule breaker (‘you have always learned this way, but I teach my own way’), a certain quirkiness or a ‘who cares what people think’ passion for the subject matter.
That’s all very entertaining and nostalgic but how does this information become a practical resource for us here at VidVersity and for our customers who are designing and creating great learning experience for staff and also their own clients?
We can’t always have great teachers but we can also take these key components that keep a learner engaged and build these into our content creation.
Let’s look at some key examples of overcoming some challenges:-
1. Dry subject matter or a technically brilliant presenter (who is a little low on presentation pizazz). This can be a challenge. There are a lot of smart people who deliver content in an underwhelming manner. Try the interview style. We have used this method as a means of interviewing academics and legal experts. You don’t need to know your subject matter. Work with your interview subject and if necessary get them to help formulate your questioning. It’s an entertaining style of information presentation and you can keep it short and succinct. Here is an example.
2. Add the ‘personality’ in the post production. Revisit Natalie Wieland’s interview here and check out the brilliant editing work. Dress up your content and make it look fabulous! In case you missed it, watch it here
3. Think about who you want to deliver the content? Did your staff attend a live session? Why not have your confident and engaging staff members video their own learning experiences and add your own resources and content? Each learner could provide a short summary to share with the team. Share further reading and resources. You could package this as an online learning experience or deliver in a live shared session. Pick the people with the presentation pizazz and not necessarily the original SME.
4. Flip the classroom and identify the needs of your learners. Avoid the ‘one size fits all’. Identify the things your staff are struggling with. Internal processes? New legislative requirements? Dealing with difficult customers. Create some learning around specific issues. You can deliver these in a live environment but capture this content to create a resource library.
Whether you are delivering learning live or online, all learning can be engaging and memorable.