When to ask for more and when to ask for less

Today my boss outlined a concept that I thought was impossible. But he’s pretty, well, something. Maybe inspiring? Anyway, I just couldn’t bring myself to say he was crazy. So, I gave it a go. And it worked. I managed to get some content (not quality necessarily) into some documents that means heads greater than mine can now make it all work in the craziest time frame ever.

I then had the privilege of seeing an academic lecture. I was working with her on the flipping concept and she was saying that she needed the two hour lecture because her course is really content heavy. She’s right it is. And she was kind enough (brave enough?) to let me, a complete stranger come into her lecture with the prospect of receiving feedback. High school teachers have observations regularly* so we are used to people coming in with a view to feedback. Academics, not so much. Anyway, I digress.

She is incredible. Her content knowledge is amazing. We are asking her to lecture in a large theatre on technical, heavy, theoretical content to students who are incapable of manners. We ask too much. Her lecture style is seminar. She asks questions, she poses concepts and then explains them in detail. She uses multimedia and she would have loved it if just one student had said “Yeah – I can totally see where you’re going with this, how about this other thing though, how does that work?”. She is passionate.

Passion is palpable. We can teach that. What we can do is show academics options from the traditional style. I can suggest to this wonderful person that she use a flat room and intersperse group work into her lecture. That she ask students to stand up and point at her slides and ask questions. I can even see her be relaxed about a student taking the reigns. We can teach her to use PowerPoint and multimedia more effectively. We can teach her voice projection and pacing. We cannot, ever, teach her passion. Good thing she has it.

What does this all mean? It means that apparently my boss was right (again) and I can do more if he asks. It means that we need to ask less of our academics if we are not in a place to support/train/teach/inform them in how to teach with technology. It is not enough to ask academics to use technology without the support to do so. Quite frankly, we also need to ask more from the students. But I think that’s another post and relates heavily to horses and water…..


*Just before some of my teacher pals get carried away, in theory high school teachers are supposed to be observed regularly in line with the TQI process and standards. However, it is possible for it to never happen if the school culture doesn’t support that ideal. We learn best from one another. I know. It doesn’t happen……all the time……but it does happen. Promise!


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