Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Kenny Rogers EDU - Teach Like The Gambler

Many of my EDU reflections and professional learning occurs around dawn each morning before my kids wake up. Today was no different. As my kids snoozed in the hotel room, I jumped on the Twitters and, as usual, came across another great tweet and blog post by George Couros. This post caught my eye because of a Rudyard Kipling quote he referenced.  "If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten."

In his blog post, George touches on the topic of teachers as the "sage on the stage." This is a style of teaching that I find antiquated. Though I am opposed to this style of teaching, and the accompanying cemetery style classroom, as a classroom teacher, I was pretty good at lecturing. Students told me they enjoyed my lectures and storytelling. Long story short, the sage on the stage still has a role in the classroom. If you are a talented storyteller and lecturer, engage and empower your students with this talent. As a tech coach, I would suggest screencasting and recording your amazing lectures for students to review on their time as well as sharing with colleagues to use in their classes. 

Upon tweeting George Couros' point about the sage on the stage, an educator not too far from where I live (@madtownmath) replied to the tweet referencing a line from the song The Gambler by Kenny Rogers. The part of the song where Kenny talks about knowing when to hold 'em and fold 'em is the perfect metaphor for making use of sage on the stage pedagogy, or any pedagogy for that matter.

For me, balance is key. As a connected educator, being up to date on all the cutting edge edtech and pedagogy makes it easy to dismiss older, still-effective methods that often get looked down upon in today's educational landscape.  There is a time to be the sage on the stage and lecture, but that can't be your only method. Edtech and cutting edge pedagogy are the same. A good balance of varied pedagogies help provide students voice and choice and meet a variety of learning styles.

Like a card game, with pedagogy, we need to know when to hold 'em and fold 'em. We have to know when to lecture and when not to. We need to know when to use the cool edtech tool/strategy and when not to. Anything done for the sake of doing it often makes it less effective. It loses its soul. Teaching is a little bit like gambling. We often go bust, but if we stand on the shoulders of giants and #failforward, like gambling, those wins can be hugely memorable for students.

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