Yesterday, I had the chance to speak with educators from the Toronto District School Board. It was a great opportunity to share ideas on “The Innovator’s Mindset” and I had to address this in an hour keynote to about 500 people. The talk was well received, and people seemed to have a lot of questions after. I think a keynote can be a VERY powerful way to learn, if you are open to it. Some people will say that a “keynote” is a bad way of learning, but personally, I love hearing stories and connecting them to learning. If you are a good story teller, you can have my attention for an hour easy.
After the keynote though, I did a session on “digital footprint”. Lately, I have been starting off these sessions with a blank agenda and encourage people to ask questions so we can start from what they want to learn, as opposed to what I want to teach. The beauty of this for me, personally, is that it is not the same thing every time, as the needs of each group of learners is unique, and the questions are so interesting. Obviously I have knowledge in this area, but I have to be open to being flexible to what the group needs. Every time I have done it this way, we have gone over time, with few people getting up to leave. It shows an engagement that is powerful. Sometimes I am doing a lot of talking, and sometimes I am sitting back and letting participants go where they need to. I answer questions with questions, to try to spark thinking in the room.
The reason I am sharing this is that in a short time I am going from the role of “sage on the stage”and the “guide on the side”. You can call me a “facilitator of learning” or “architect of learning experiences”. It is not about being one thing as opposed to another, it is figuring out when to move into each role. Great teachers do this. It is important that educators do not feel guilty about standing up in front of students and sharing knowledge, only if they are the only ones to do this all of the time; that’s a different story. Being able to go out of these different roles is why teaching is both an art and a science. To me, the “art” is in making those connections and tapping into something personal, but the “science” is understanding when and why you need to do this.
Teaching is truly a beautiful profession.