When we invest our time in experiencing a story, presentation, or lesson we have the right to expect some return on that investment. Sometimes, it can be satisfying enough to savour the ride and to be immersed in a wave of emotional or cogntive experience.
But really good lessons are those that change us. They take us on a journey that has us arrive at the destination a slightly different person – affected – perhaps with new insight, enhanced empathy, or a shifted perspective.
And the best lessons end with a unique gift – a tangible shift in behaviour. Not only do we think differently, but we are nudged along a newly-illuminated path.
I attended two brilliant conference presentations on the weekend. One made me eat differently today. The other caused me to make three phone calls – two to family members and one to an old friend.
This is the thing we call impact. It is the mark of great teaching and the broadest goal of education.
When you buy a cake from the shop and serve it to your guests, it tastes nice, they like it, and you’ve saved time and effort. But you’ve learned nothing about baking.
Many teachers lean heavily on materials and structures built and determined by others. It’s just easier that way.
But when you get the chance to see a lesson being taught by a teacher who has carefully designed, orchestrated, and crafted a student experience from the ground up – with their own stamp on every part if it – you see something different. Not only do you see a teacher who is more deeply invested in the lesson but you see a teacher who is really learning. The real-time student response provides rich and meaningful data that allows a teacher to not only refine their pedagogy, but also to become a better lesson architect.
Great teaching is as much about preparation and design as it is about delivery.
When you start baking for the first time, you make mistakes and you learn. But soon enough, you are able to bake a homemade cake that tastes better than anything you can buy in a shop.