Make Me Care

Andrew Stanton’s line, “The greatest story commandment is: Make me care.” stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it almost a year ago.

I was on my way to working with a couple of teachers in another area of Quebec and had a long drive ahead of me, so I plugged in my phone and listened to a podcast I had been saving for just such an opportunity – from NPRs TED Radio Hour, Framing the Story. Listen to it to hear what Andrew says about storytelling.

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Grant Wiggins writes:

…a course must seem coherent and meaningful from the learner’s perspective. There must be a narrative, if you will; there must be a throughline; there must be engaging and stimulating inquiries and performances that provide direction, priorities, and incentives. (What is a course?)

This is true at any level, in any industry. Whether working with students or professionals – learning will happen, learning will be meaningful – when I care about the story you have to tell and can fold it into my own.

vacuum

Make me care – say all learners to all teachers.

When they are skipping class, doing the minimum to pass, avoiding work, avoiding professional development opportunities – somehow we have not made our material something they care about. Sometimes it is beyond our control – other stories in their lives have prominence.

For me, I strive to make you care about what I have to teach.

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The truth about stories are that that’s what we are ~ Thomas King

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(Oh – and to my students – you don’t need to make me care. I already do.)

Why blog? (and it’s not about making learning fun.)

Blogging is not about making journaling fun for students.
It’s not about trying to find a reason for students to spell correctly.
It’s not even about connecting them to global others.

I can think of no more horrible an exercise than forcing all of the students in my class to create a blog for the sake of writing online what could be written in a journal. For the sake of trying to trick them into writing with the flashy, shiny technology as if they won’t know that really all they are doing is writing on a computer (I did it about 5 or 10 years ago, so I know of what I speak).

If blogging is a something (and I think it is) then it’s about having a passion to share. It’s about loving something so much you want to write, talk, show – create – about it. It’s about having a story to tell. It’s about having a voice.

Inherent in my job as a teacher is showing my students to their voice. For some, blogging could be a good vehicle for that trip.

The secret for me is to get them to that voice in a way that makes sense for them.

Truth about stories

Two very different stories about the same events.

A number of years ago I listened to Thomas King as he gave the keynote address at a teacher’s convention. He said something along the lines of – “The truth about stories is that that’s all we are…We are responsible not only for the stories we tell but for those we choose to believe.”

So what do these stories tell us about their storytellers?

And which do you choose to believe? Remember. Only you are responsible for that.

Flashback: seeking to understand

This post was originally written in 2009 and is still very relevant to me. I hope you think so as well.

If only humans had it this easy when it comes to understanding each other

If only humans had it this easy when it comes to understanding each other

A norm that I aspire to, however difficult it can be at times is this one:

Seek to understand before being understood.

I just read a story about an administrator who practices this norm.

From Karen S. about a Kindergarten student in trouble in Talking Him Off the Ledge at Talkworthy:

“In a few minutes, he got the idea that I wasn’t there to make his day more miserable but that I was genuinely trying to understand him.”

She described the encounter between herself and the child as magical. I felt the magic as I read her words. Karen is a true leader. Go read the whole story. It’s a story worth listening to, sharing, and believing.

“We are responsible not only for the stories we tell and the stories we listen to, but for the stories we choose to believe.” ~Thomas King

Let me tell you a story … about teaching and technology

I’m teaching a class on creating a radio show and podcasting. I’m working with 11 enthusiastic and interested adult learners and I’m quite excited about it myself. Yesterday was our 2nd meeting.

Let me tell you a little story about teaching and technology…

My plan was 3-fold:

The first two parts were easy, the components were me and them. It was the last section that proved…challenging. And guess what? That last section involved a 10 minute presentation. It required technology. And the technology wasn’t cooperating. I realized it wasn’t cooperating an hour before the course so I did have time to place the presentation on individual laptops for students to view at their tables. The thing was, I wasn’t planning on needing headsets. There was audio. At one point in the presentation I say, “You must be fed up of hearing my voice by now …” When I heard it an asynchronous 6 times I laughed out loud and so did the students. It’s a good thing they have a sense of humour!

Other little things… laptops kept logging out (need to remember to shut off the logout feature) during the class, some of them decided to do the Windows update thing and re-started mid lesson.

Like I said, at least we all had a sense of humour and I knew what was going on nevertheless it was still very frustrating. I had spent a week preparing for this class, not a week straight but on and off for a week. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and it really should have gone off without a hitch but it didn’t.

And. Capital A ‘And’ here… I am a technology consultant. I understand that things sometimes don’t work and the majority of the time I can work around that And still, I was met with this frustration.

Computer RepairWhen teachers tell me their own stories of how technology trumped their lessons I know that they are less and less willing to try it again. It is frustrating to put so much time into something to have it fall apart because a wire is missing, a network is down, a button they don’t know about needs to be pushed, an ActiveX control needs to be allowed to run, a program needs to be updated, a this, a that.

So where do we go from here?

Is it about teaching teachers how to troubleshoot all of that? It would be nice if everyone knew how but I’m not sure if that is a very practical answer.

The largest protest I hear from teachers about their day is that there is not enough time to do anything. We know that there isn’t. Teachers have so many responsibilities, a mere fraction of which is the hours of time where they are physically tied to their classrooms and the rest generally gets done on their own time. We know that. So throwing more training at them that requires them to use their precious out of class time in order to learn how to troubleshoot technology that they perhaps do not even want to use well…I think that is problematic.

So again. Where do we go from here?

For myself, I am in the process of creating a webpage for the course where I will drop any resources. I’ll be expecting the learners in the course to access any presentations there. It’s something they can do during class time, at home if they have computers, on their phones, whatever their preference or requirement. This way the theory won’t be trumped by the tech. As well, the class time will be reserved for collaboration, creation, and questions.

But that is me. I teach one little course a week. And I am a technology consultant.

Where do we go from here when it comes to working with educators and supporting them with not only the opportunities but the challenges of using technology in the classroom?