The Creative Teacher

How we deliver our material in class is as important as what we deliver. An engaging, memorable perhaps novel class that speaks to our students hearts and minds is one in which learning is almost unavoidable.

Over the past year or so I have been fortunate enough to see some very engaging presenters at conferences, presenters from whom I have learned as much about teaching as I have the content of their session. Su Nottingham & Al Craven create wonderful learning experiences for their classes, placing the student at the center of the learning. Dom Splendorio from the East Coast has a similar mindset, and all of these come from the Deb Tackman school of teaching – creating engaging teaching methods to make the content come alive and the learning experience more memorable. More recently, Alex O’Brien from Focused Fitness impressed me at IAHPERD with his infectious enthusiasm and use of kinesthetic techniques to reinforce his message, and of course no mention of dynamic and innovative #healthed teachers would be complete without a mention of Andy Horne and his scholarly raps. Students talk about the content of his lessons long after the bell has rung and the semester has ended.

However, the teacher who has inspired this blog post is Mary Wentland from Wisconsin. I saw Mary present a couple of times at #WHPE15 and was blown away! It was the first time I had seen a health teacher present that made me look at myself and ask if I really was as good a teacher as I thought I was. Mary’s creative ideas have so many layers to them and are extremely unique. It was evident from the time that I spent with her that she is a teacher that creates long lasting connections with her students through her teaching style and materials.  Another health teacher at the conference commented on the fact that you could pretty much throw any seed of an idea at Mary and within a short period of time she will respond with a multitude of ways in which it could be turned into a lesson! A poker chip? Easy. A kids trading card? Yep, did that too. A strength of Mary’s is teaching through metaphor. She says “Metaphors are great and I believe they truly speak to the 21st century learner who lives in “pictures” and “140 characters”.

We have bounced messages back and forth since meeting each other and there have been a few ‘metaphor challenges’. How would you use an elevator in a metaphor? How about a see-saw? Our Magic 8-Ball suggestions were very creative:

Mary: Why are we drawn to the magic 8 ball? Is it because we seek quality advice? Is it because if we don’t like the answer we can ask it another question? Willingness to take a calculated risk/gamble? Is it because we worry about the future? Confirmation of answers to questions in a crazy paced/ media world still hold true. Who do you know that will give you an honest answer? (Character Traits) What do you know about yourself? Do you want the honest answer?

Me: I’ve always felt that you can ask a Magic 8 Ball your question and you have to accept it’s answer – sometimes in life we don’t get the answer that we want to hear, so how do we re-evaluate our options. The Magic 8-Ball is impartial, it has no biases. Are we ever able to put our biases aside in order to make the ‘right’ decision? The Magic 8 Ball has a limited range of answers. How do we make the best of a situation with the limited resources/options available to us?

And so to this weeks #slowchathealth questions and teaching through metaphors. I’ll throw out an object and let’s see how many ideas we can get to use that object in class. And we’ll start with the easy one….

Q1 How could you use a Magic 8 Ball to create a teaching metaphor in your class? #slowchathealth

Q2 How could you use a See-Saw to create a teaching metaphor in your class? #slowchathealth

Q3 How could you use an Onion to create a teaching metaphor in your class? #slowchathealth

Q4 How could you use a Backpack to create a teaching metaphor in your class? #slowchathealth

Q5 How could you use your PLN to create a teaching metaphor in your class? #slowchathealth

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