Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Teaching in a Time of Presenting

I'm kind of obsessed with PowerPoint. That is, hyper aware of it's presence without a preference to use it. I think I used it twice in the semester that just ended. I work hard in life to not be a hater, so I want to recognize the obvious point that many instructors are skilled at using PowerPoint and can use it as a tool to teach effectively. It's not my cup of tea.

As I experience it, PowerPoint guides me to present material. I don't have much success presenting sociological ideas via the PowerPoint format. For me, the classic whiteboard technique of writing bullet points as we go through the material remains my calling card. Writing on the board helps my pacing. Using the board I feel like I'm teaching. Using the software I feel like I'm presenting. 

Somehow I'm thinking about this one day after listening to someone going through a very rough time. This person is frustrated with an annoying neighbor, and is also extremely upset due to having a sick pet. The person tried to fight back tears in relaying details about their beloved pet to me. At the end of our time together, the person remarked I was like their therapist. It reminded me of my college days as a Psychology major. I developed a style of interaction focused on listening and then offering my thoughts, when solicited. As I gained more life experience I began to better understand the art of listening, and sitting here today I see more clearly that people want to be listened to. I tend not to talk much during interactions. I suppose I've been heading in this direction for a long time. I've even heard myself say in April and May "I don't like the sound of my own voice this time of year" meaning it's the culmination of an academic year when I've had to do a lot of talking in the classroom. I've never relied on lecturing as a professor. My classes have always been discussion based. So there it is. I don't like presenting and I try to limit my own talking. Outside the classroom, I don't care to do a lot of talking and I concentrate on listening and asking questions.

I'm 20+ years into my teaching career. In the last 1/3 of my career, I suspect I'll want to talk even less than I already do when I'm teaching. I doubt I'll get more into presenting. It's a good opportunity to develop a pedagogy of critical listening.


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