Blogging challenge – evolving teaching practice – Telling stories

Something I have become acutely aware of this year is the power of telling stories. I had a huge focus earlier on in my teaching (I have only been teaching for 6 years, so in some terms I am probably still finding my feet in teacher years……) about removing myself from the front of the class room. I found my first year or two I made ‘beautiful’ presentations using power point, keynote and prezi and would work my way through them. Teaching girls, they would write them all down diligently and I thought I had the teaching thing sorted.

Then I started to get a bit braver and ask some questions during my presentations. The response I got was ‘I’m still writing, I can’t possibly think about answering a question’.

With teaching boys in the last two years, diligently writing notes wasn’t always their thing. So the presentation crowd control went out the window.

This year I have had a huge focus on using Office Mix and OneNote to make digital text books and how to video for key concepts and exam question work through. I started by making a huge effort to stop using presenting tools and talking from the front of the room, which you can read about here

And like most things, I have discovered that moderation is key. Dare I say it in a public, enlightened forum, but sometimes, sitting quietly and getting some notes down is important. Just not every day, every lesson. I am really lucky with my room that I have a wireless projector, and two white boards, one front, one back, so I can shift the focus. My students have gotten used to me putting my ‘notes’ online so have (mostly) got over the need to copy down word for word what is written on the screen. So when I am telling stories or sharing ideas, I have freedom (and confidence) to wander, to down tools and change tack, to use either end of my room, or both.

And about when I was really unsure, I was listening to some TED talks. Maybe it is just me, but I can waste HOURS watching those talks. It got me thinking though, that actually listening to some-one speaking is still a good way to get the information across. Done well, a presentation is incredibly powerful. Teachers shouldn’t write them off.

So the biggest evolution I can think about for my teaching so far is how I use my voice and tell the ‘stories’ I need to in the class room. For a while there, I went to far and didn’t use it enough. Turns out, students like to listen to me, and now that I have changed the focus from the slides to me, they are more confident to challenge and ask questions of what I am saying. Being able to move about the room makes me accessible to each student. And because I do it in moderation, it makes it more effective.

So don’t give up your voice.

5 thoughts on “Blogging challenge – evolving teaching practice – Telling stories

  1. Nice one, Rachel. My kids love it when I tell stories – they love it when I tell them a story about when I was a kid, and my old teachers, especially Mr Terry. Don’t tell them this, but not all of them are 100% true – as my father-in-law says, never let the truth get in the way of a good story 🙂
    Cheers Rachel!

  2. I really love this post, Rachel. With all the technology available today, I know that I am often forgetting that, sometimes, the simplicity of storytelling is the best way to share learning. So many of my students learn very little by writing (and I’m an aural learner myself).

    1. Thanks Hannah 🙂 I agree, keeping it simple is so key. It is easy to get lost in the technology (although I do love it and use it often) and forget that the sidetracks and teachable moments are really important too.

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