Some music teachers give you an instrument and teach you to play scales. Chromatic, major, and minor scales. Play them again and again until you get them right. Then and only then can we move on to sight reading. Oh, and maybe, eventually, to actual music. Think of the stern stereotypical teacher of yore.  

Other music teachers ask what music you like. Then they help you to play those songs. The songs sound terrible at first but that’s okay. It feels fun. Like actual music. Which is what you’re there to learn. Scales come later. First, let’s have some fun. Think Jack Black in School of Rock

These opposing styles are known as pedagogies, the cohesive and distinct methods of teaching others. There are many styles and substyles that are tested in education all the time. We don’t use the term in the workplace but we should. We have pedagogies, too. 

Because we’re teachers. We give presentations. We explain complex material to others. We strive to create shared understanding. When we do this, we often think of our presentation as a single teaching moment. We’re just delivering one thing at one time through the lens of narrative—establishing a beginning, middle, end. But the best presentations you’ve ever seen aren’t built that way. They’re built with a pedagogy: a distinct method of teaching the boring/technical/complex information to an audience over a longer period of time

Here’s what matters most: a pedagogy isn’t built on a 10-minute TED talk. It’s built over semesters.

You can’t be a great teacher and genuinely effective presenter until you think about your work in semesters. Managing a board or council? Think of what you want to teach them over four months of meetings. Give them homework. Same with your staff.

You’re not going anywhere. They aren’t either. So don’t treat your big powerpoints as one-time necessary treatments. What’s necessary doesn’t have to come all at once and doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t have to teach them chromatic scales the first day.

Mix in some “School of Rock.”

The people you work with need to know what you know. But this education takes many months. Whole semesters.

In the education world, Harvard University’s Project Zero is a great example of a pedagogy. Montessori schools have a unique pedagogy. You get the idea. Look at your next five months to see what you want to teach. Then think how.

It’s not just managers, either. If you have something to share, you’re a teacher and this applies at all levels.

You can convey knowledge in a dry and necessary manner for ONE TIME ONLY. This is your powerpoint. You put it together, did your job, and it’s their responsibility to learn it. 

Or you can join the School of Rock and do something engaging and captivating over the course of time. This is your pedagogy. Your curriculum. It takes more time because it’s our responsibility (you and them) to learn it.

Think pedagogy. Think sequences that go back and forth. Fun and engaging, boring and dry. Great teachers shift fluidly between these points. A little of this, a little of that. It’s the mix that matters. The remix too. 


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash