We All Need Someone To Show Us What’s Possible

At a conference I recently attended, every session combined mind-numbing PowerPoint with lecture.  That’s how it’s always been.  And that’s how future presenters learn to design their presentations.

I guess I was fortunate to have grown up living with someone who taught me differently.

My father was the kind of science teacher who blew stuff up to get his students’ attention, then he’d de-brief and discuss safety.  He was the kind of teacher who set up his class like a forensic lab and created a murder mystery in order to immerse his students in the scientific method.

When I began as a classroom instructor, teaching GED to high school dropouts in Washington, DC, I had no idea what I was doing.  My father was quick to share information on Bloom’s Taxonomy and lesson plan design and classroom management.  When I thought “curriculum design” simply meant piecing together a bunch of lesson plans, alarm bells probably went off in my father’s head.  In his gentle, guiding way he sent me boxes of notebooks and binders that he quickly assembled in order to provide me with a self-study course on McTighe and Wiggins’ Understanding by Design model (first focus on outcomes, then how you’d assess it, then the lesson plan itself).

In short, my father was part coach, part teacher, part mentor.  He showed me what was possible and I’ve been able to integrate many of these lessons – both lessons I observed in watching him in action as well as the lessons he’s sent me through the mail – into the learning experiences I craft for my own audiences.

Modeling facilitation techniques and instructional design practices is something I strive to do for every one of my audiences.  I strive to show them what’s possible when it comes to engaging a learner – through classroom-based training, webinars or elearning.

It all begins not by asking: how has instruction always been done, but rather: what can I possibly do to make this an insanely great learning experience?

On this Father’s Day, I’d like to thank my father for helping to get me where I am today.

Of course, if you don’t happen to have access to my father, here are a few other resources I’ve found to be incredibly important in showing me what’s possible when it comes to presentation design:

Tom Kuhlman’s Rapid Elearning Blog to imagine what’s possible in elearning design, even if you don’t have much time or money to put something together.

Alex Rister’s Creating Communications blog to imagine what’s possible when it comes to effectively communicating through visual aids.

Seth Godin’s blog to imagine how much you can express in a simple paragraph or two.

Who do you have in your life – personal or professional – to show you what’s possible?

The Train Like A Champion Blog is published Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  If you think someone else might find this interesting, please pass it along.  If you don’t want to miss a single, brilliant post, be sure to click “Follow”!  And now you can find sporadic, 140-character messages from me on Twitter @flipchartguy.

3 thoughts on “We All Need Someone To Show Us What’s Possible

  1. Your first sentence drew me in completely . . . because it so accurately describes my experience! I now work for state government, and I can’t begin to tell you how mind-numbing the training sessions are. Oh, how I long for a Brian Washburn KWYA or other training experience. Thanks for your words and for modeling what you preach.

    • Awwww! Fan mail! Thanks Gwen. I’m sorry that your mind is numbed in those “training sessions”. Maybe you can refer the presenters to this blog in your end-of-session evaluation form!

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