Slice of Life #30 Monologues, Dialogues and the Messiness of Teaching

This morning I had a brief conversation with a colleague who is completing her teaching degree and she mentioned some things that got me thinking. After acknowledging how complex teaching actually is, she noted that planning which you do on your own is essentially a monologue; a process which happens in isolation. But when you are actually in front of a class with 20 students, it all changes, it becomes a dialogue. There are new needs, responses and questions that enter into the exchange. It gets complicated.

What an insight! Planning = monologue, teaching = dialogue. I thanked her profusely because I had never thought of the contrast in those terms before. There’s more thinking I want to do on this but the initial spark went off like a firecracker.

Meanwhile, I’m scheduled to offer a workshop at a PE conference next week. The topic is “Fostering Independent Learners in Elementary PE” and boy, do I have some work ahead of me to pull it together. When I create workshops, I design for lots of active participation. I want to work with my colleagues, not talk at them. And PE conferences tend to be much better at facilitating this approach than other traditional conferences. We use gyms and equipment and we play to get our points across. So I’m planning a workshop where we’ll do some of the things I do in my classroom and we’ll talk about it and people will share what they do along the way and we’ll all walk away richer for the experience. Putting it that way already makes me feel better.

Presenting doesn’t have mean knowing and telling. I prefer to think of it as offering and sharing. It takes a bit of the load off and now it occurs to me that my years of experience allow me to plan for dialogue; to design with dialogue in mind the whole way, even if I spend the planning phase just talking to myself. I’m not new to this messy teaching thing, but I am always discovering aspects of its composition that surprise and also charm me.

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7 thoughts on “Slice of Life #30 Monologues, Dialogues and the Messiness of Teaching

  1. Great insight by your colleague, and I hope your presentation goes well. Making learners do and experience is so much more powerful thank making them listen and sit (particularly for PE!)
    Kevin

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  2. I hope your presentation goes well. The more you allow the participants be active, give them choice and voice, the more ownership and agency you give to them. I am sure you will have fun too besides learning.

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  3. So many good points to keep in mind when presenting. Love this idea. we play to get our points across. W should do that whether it’s students or any type of teacher. You raise such wonderful ideas that I will be thinking of long after this.

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  4. I love the distinction your colleague makes and how you work with that to realize that you are essentially planning for a dialogue. One of my mentors way back when showed me how she thought about the ideas she wanted to impart and then tried to anticipate the various shapes the class discussion might take. On my best planning days, I still do this. Sounds like you do this, too – your interactive approach to workshops makes me want to attend!

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