Thursday, October 30, 2008

Do What I Say, Not Do What I Do?

How many times have you gone to a professional development session where they try to tell you the best way to teach but aren’t demonstrating it at that time? How many times have you heard a professor lecture for hours about how important it is to engage the students and not lecture all of the time? Why are we educating pre-service teachers in old ways but expecting them to teach in new ways? How can we expect people to know how to use technology if we don’t let them use it? How can we expect students to know digital citizenship if we block everything from them? These are just some of the perplexing questions that ramble through my brain.

Whenever I am giving a professional development workshop or teaching a course, I try to teach the adults the same way I would teach my students. I explain this procedure beforehand because I think modeling is so important. Do we think because people are adults that modeling is no longer important? If I am teaching my students, I try to explain the steps that I am doing so they can notice and use them when it is their turn. We can’t expect that people will automatically know what to do without telling them, showing them, and giving them time to try it.

I am so much more engaged when I see a speaker practicing what he/she preaches. I think our students need to see that too. It does no good to tell a student that lying is bad and then let them see you lie to another teacher or administrator. If I want my students to do presentations a certain way, then I have to model this in my lessons. I think of the golden rule my parents taught me about “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” I would like to adapt this to say “Teach unto others as you would like them to teach you.” I really think if a lot of people kept that in the back of their mind when planning and teaching lessons, the classroom would have a whole different atmosphere.

Now that I’ve stated all of the above, I thought it was important for me to write down what I think is important for my students to learn about presenting information and make sure I model these as I teach them. I thought about what I would like to see when I’m in the audience. I think if these steps are done, presentations would be more successful.
1. Be prepared and know your material.
2. Be prepared in case the technology does not work. Have a backup plan.
3. Know your audience.
4. Practice before presenting.
5. Know how long your presentation is.
6. Make eye contact.
7. Do not read your PowerPoint slides.
8. Move around the room.
9. Involve your audience.
10. Make sure you summarize at the end.

If you think of anything you would add if you were me, please leave a comment. I’m always open to new ideas or I might have missed something important that I take for granted. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog!


Anonymous said...

Well said! I totally agree with you. And a little enthusiasm goes a long way too.

Thanks for the great list of suggestions.


Anonymous said...

This is so true Pat. I enjoy presentations where the presenters present in the way they are encouraging me to teach.

I would also like to see conferences (those for which participants pay to attend) be available online (also for a fee as presenters do need to get paid) to reach others who cannot physically attend.

Anonymous said...

I can only say "amen" to the points your listed. The point "Know you audience" is very important; and to that I would add a sub-point: "Pitch your presentation accordingly". The presentation must serve the audience and not the presenter ... it must therefore be given in a style/mood/format that is just right for the audience ... if you talk way above their level, you lose them, if you talk below their level, you insult their intelligence. One has a very narrow band that is effective - and that is the level you have to pich. The trick, of course, is when you have a mixed audience, when you have to walk on a tight rope and make sure that all leave the presentation satisfied and enriched.

Penny Ryder said...

I love going to PD and having the chance to explore new ideas. I think you've done a great job summing up responsibilities of a presenter. I'm often embarrassed by the behaviors of my colleagues at PD. Sometimes adults (particularly teachers) can be poor listeners and quite disrespectful. This ties in with the title of your post as well.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. One thing that has helped me be more engaged with my audience is to actually remove almost all text from any slides I use, following the Presentation Zen approach.

Here's the thing I'm wondering about:

I think I offer good presentations, I follow all of your tips, and my enthusiasm and energy always shines through (or so I am told), but when I teach a class, I almost never "present" anything for any longer than 10 minutes.

So does this mean our presentations should be extremely brief and then offer a hands on session, like we would with younger students?

Or does it mean that adults learn differently and we can present for longer periods?

Should we expect all presentations we attend to be hands on, like we would if we were teaching students?

I really am curious, because I always want to improve my presentation style, yet I do find myself staying away from "hands on" activities for adults.

I always provide time to discuss (turn and talk), show multimedia resources (like videos or animation), share samples of student work, and leave time for questions and discussion when I'm presenting, but I do wonder if this is varied enough.

I hear a lot of complaining about PowerPoint, but when it is done well - with varied media, no text-heavy slides, engaging presentation at the right level, and lots of opportunity to talk, I actually enjoy it.

Still thinking.... This may have to become a blog post for me!

loonyhiker said...

Kim: I usually can't talk more than 20 minutes. When I do my Voicethread presentation in January, I plan to do a 10 min. PowerPoint and then I have asked for a few students to demonstrate how to make a VT. After that, I will actually show the teachers how to make a VT. That is how I would teach my students so that is how I want to involve the teachers. Of course this may not always be possible if they don't have access to the computers. This is why I bring my own laptop with my own ability to access the internet. At least I can show a demo, and let the teachers come up and try on my laptop.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's always better to make sessions hands-on, and I definitely think if you're doing this a school, where there is potential that most people would have access to a computer, there could be ubiquitous wireless access, and you would (most likely) have a smaller group.

I'm thinking about a situation where you might be presenting in a hotel conference room (possibly in another country), where potential of wireless is low, at best you can hope for about 50% of your audience to have a laptop, and the group size would be something around 70 - 100 people. In that case, I think it might be difficult to have a hands-on session (and you definitely wouldn't want 50 people lining up to use your computer - even in an hour-long session). As much as I would love to believe that everyone will bring a laptop if you tell them in advance, I don't know if that's always possible, especially when people might be traveling long distances, or continuing with a trip after the conference. I'm trying to figure out how to make those types of sessions "different."

When I'm presenting at school or especially on specific software, I always design them exactly as you describe - the hands on aspect is critical. But, I'm finding myself doing and more and more of the type of presenting I described above and I would love to find away to work around all of those types of obstacles.

loonyhiker said...

Kim: I thought more about your comment and thought my 50 min. presentation in January may be like your situation. I have done a PowerPoint that will take about 20 minutes. After that, I will ask people to get in small groups (depending on the size of the group) for 10 min. to discuss how they will specifically use the tool I presented. If they can't think of a way, I'm hoping the group can inspire them. Too many times I have been to something where I didn't have any idea how to use what I learned, so it got "put on a shelf" and never used. If I can get participants to start actually thinking about how they will use it, they might be more motivated to actually start. I will bring them back as a whole for 10 min. to discuss some of their ideas and maybe others can offer suggestions to those who didn't know. This will leave the remainder of the time for Q & A. I also have door prizes that I give out at the end by giving them raffle tickets at the beginning of the session.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea of splitting into small groups to discuss how they could use the tool! That way if they have a laptop and wireless they can try it out, but if not, they have something else useful they can do. Great thinking! Will add that one to my preso rotation :)

Acacia Merlin said...

But I still see presentation front and center . . . someone at the front of the room doing the talking. The best professional development I've experienced has little of that . . . power point, overhead, etc.

I like that Kim and loonyhiker are aligned with the idea that the actual presentation can be very brief.

loonyhiker said...

I'll let y'all know how my presentations go in January.