I was reading “Talk Like TED” by Carmine Gallo during the summer break. Very interesting book to read and so much great tips for presenting in front of an audience!
First, let us talk about what is a TED talk. I’m assuming that you
have been hiding for a very long time and never heard of TED – Ideas Worth Spreading. So, it is a gathering of great people that share their knowledge of a subject. Or best description is by Oprah Winfrey: “TED is where brilliant people go to hear other brilliant people share their ideas.” There are multiple presenters throughout the day sharing their passions on a stage. The topics vary a lot from researches, discoveries, passion, motivation, … But, all are restraint to 18 minutes! That is the key that got me thinking this summer. 18 minutes. Yeah, 18 minutes to convey their message, their finding, their passion, … Get this, by the time they are done their 18 minutes, everyone in the audience gets it! WOW! Go see for your self, click here. Choose a topic that you like and dedicate 18 minutes of your time. Guarantee you will be blown away. That is assuming you like to learn!
Second, is what is that got to do with “teaching”/”teacher”? You might ask. Well, the burning question that I had a long reading that book was: How? can they stand in front of an audience with different background and deliver such a powerful presentation. That is all done under 18 minutes! The presenter has delivered their message/presentation and everyone understood or got a very clear representation. Amazing and interesting concept. I won’t go in details of the 18 minutes research and data. But, if you read Carmine Gallo book, he does an excellent job about it.
Let us get to the point, shall we? HOW? Well, the TED organization are very good at helping the presenters before they get on stage. So much so, that they can and so is Carmine, able to take a presenter who may have done a keynote of 1 or 2 hours and condense it into the magic 18 minutes. Which made me think of Twitter! They can work with a presenter up to a year before they step on stage. So imagine the iteration that got done in a year! Ok, we get it GT, it is 18 minutes.
What is that got to do with “teaching”? First, let me tell you an experience or more like something we did without realizing it. We, meaning three math teachers at my school. Once upon a time, we had an overcharge curriculum to teach. It was the Math 30 Pure (grade 12 math) at the time. We or more like every math teacher in Alberta complaint about not having enough time to teach all the curriculum outcomes so that students could master them. We decided to sit down and look at the curriculum and condense it as much as we could. We did such a good job at it that we save 12 days at the end of the semester to do a review. Whoopy you might think, and you might say “your point is”? Well, before doing this, we were lucky to get 2 days of review. If you are a math teacher, you are probably thinking that the students probably didn’t do too well. You might be right to think that. But just to make sure we didn’t cut any outcome. We did cover the same curriculum and all the outcomes. We were afraid that the student would struggle and not do so well. But, to our surprise and very happy about it. The students actually did better! Yeah, better than the previous years. In my case, it was 12% higher than normal. WOW! From then on, we decided to keep doing this and my average stayed in that range. Note, we are teaching at the high school level.
Without knowing it at the time and reading the book this summer. We kind of did the TED concept which condenses the material. So, what if we as the teacher tried to condense our presentation in front of the class? What if, we actually limit our teaching to 18 minutes or less? What would happen? Would more student be left out? Would the student understand less? Well, I tried it and use it every day in my classes! Ever heard of another similar concept, 20-80! Have you ever heard of, you learn better by doing than listening! Disclaimer, I’m not better than anybody else. I have learned many years ago and adopted that 20-80 concept. I spend 20% of the time presenting and 80% of the time helping students that are struggling. Which also gives them plenty of time to try the concepts. Some concepts are so easy that 100% of the students get it after presenting for 20% of the class time. That happens more often then I expect. Which brings me to another topic that I will post a few blogs about. HOMEWORK! I will say it now, I don’t believe in homework (I will explain this in a future post, so please bear with me in the meantime!)
At this point, some are probably asking or being skeptical about this process. Or, wondering how in the world can you teach the Quadratic Formula within 20% of a normal class time! Let’s get something straight and honest here. Some concepts may require more than that 20%. True to that! But, what I have learned is that I was assuming knowledge or lack off before even teaching the concept to my student. Huh! Yeah, I bet you that you assume your students will struggle with a concept (and nothing wrong with that by the way because you probably have a lot of teaching experience with that concept) But, hear me out. The day I decided to shorten my examples on the board was the day, I realize that some students don’t need me in front of the class doing 20 different examples on the board. Best part, the students who are struggling, started to ask questions! What? Because they are not afraid to ask a question when the teacher comes by them while circulating around the classroom! Meaning, that they would not dare ask a question in front of the entire class or after 20+ examples. But, they will if you are circulating around the classroom or even you have set up a place in the classroom for “consultation”. Also, since you still have 80% of the class time left! Students have plenty of time to finish the work and go home to do other important things that a family wants to do.
So for me, the 18 minutes of TED really work and so far it works for my students. Try it and see! The worst thing that could happen, is that you will need to teach longer!
In my next Post, I will share how we did it. In the meantime, what do you think about this approach of limiting your presentation?