Do as I Say, Not as I Do

It may be the teacher thing, or it may be the Catholic thing, but fairly often I think that I am doing everything wrong.

As I have said often enough, I love presenting at workshops and conferences. When I'm in front of a good group and I have them laughingand nodding, that weird combination of teacher, stand up comedian, and pundit in me feels most at home. I get good reviews for my talks, and against all odds I to time to be invited to things. It is only natural, therefore, that so must satisfaction must be undercut by pangs of doubt.

This doubt-knife usually goes like this: Greg, you are standing in front of a group of people telling them that they need to get their students more involved in classes. Sage-like, you are announcing the death of the “sage on the stage” (often ironically standing on a stage when you say it). You have to find a way to get your audience more directly involved. And you should rinse the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher (oh, that's a different voice of self-criticism).

I make peace with these concerns by telling myself that conferences are only one type of learning, and that one would hope that a rousing talk might spur attendees to work and learn on their own afterward. A large audience and a limited presentation time do not lead themselves to group work.

However, I continue to feel the need to involve people more actively in the hour. Currently I do the classic, “Share with someone nearby,” but I don't feel that this really involves them in learning; it just gives me a couple of minutes of not talking. In smaller groups, I ask questions ineffectively, and I often have people raise hands to indicate things, but still….talking head.

Perhaps this is unsolvable, but does anyone have any ideas? Has anyone seen effective audience involvement beyond attention in a middle to large group at a conference?

As always, your ideas are welcome

Image: 'Question mark in Esbjerg' Found on


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Date: Wednesday, 12. February 2014 19:50
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  1. 1

    Does a falling tree make a sound in the forest if no one is there to hear it? Does the learner learn if the teacher is not there? Learning is not a place but rather a state of mind. The epiphany I had back in 2007, in the wild west days of Web 2.0, was that the tools had become so incredibly powerful, affordable, and easy to use there was no longer a stumbling block for sharing with others.

    I started the TechTalk4Teachers podcast after the frustration of presenting at a Regional Office of Education tech conference and reflecting upon the exact thing you mention in this blog post. These teachers were being shown the latest whiz-bang tech then retreating to the classroom for another 6 months until the next PD event, rinse and repeat. Worst of all we tell teachers not to lecture in their classrooms by lecturing to them, ugh.

    It might not be the cool thing, and few ever get the credit deserved, but educators that are blogging, podcasting, screencasting, etc… help more people than all the ed tech conferences in the world combined.

    These are often little noticed real-life educators sharing their practice that provide a continual stream of PD that everyone seems to be searching for. It is there, everyday, in front of our screens, no excuses. Add the social media component with deliberate practice and you have the recipe for growth and improvement. PD is not an event, it should be continual. I do not often get the chance to present at workshops and conferences but

    This blog post(and many others by educators) has the potential to change someone, maybe not today, maybe five years from now. It is “out there” waiting to be discovered. A teacher never knows where their influence stops.

    I enjoy reading your posts, keep it up.

    Tom Grissom

  2. 2

    Maybe a poll using Poll Everywhere or an assessment of some sort using Socrative? Or have them post ideas on Padlet.

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