My tweeting has changed my teaching style. I have taught continuing education computer classes for a community college for 14 years – Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access classes. Every time I teach, I leave classes happy because I have found some way to empower my students to better use computers to make their lives easier.
When I started teaching companies to use social media, a key point was telling them to listen. If they listen and engage on those levels, good things will happen.
That has migrated into my classroom. First, I started broadening each class to begin with a question/answer session. That’s riskier than following a book. As I answer questions, I demonstrate live, in front of the room. Sometimes the demonstrations don’t go as planned. Those become better teachable moments than if I merely followed a cookbook textbook approach to lesson plans.
Something funny happened on the way to the spreadsheet in a recent Excel class. As I reviewed options on the ribbon, I pointed out the translate button.
Suddenly, the entire room began to buzz. The employees in this class began to talk to one another.
They are working with a plant in Mexico, and every student in the room had a daily need to find better ways to communicate with non-English speakers.
Pause the spreadsheet formula.
For the next 20-30 minutes, I showed how to do a simple translation in Word and how to set up translation tips. That morphed into googling for translator helps; none of the students ever thought of googling for a translator. Then we discussed Google chat and its translate feature.
We eventually got back to the spreadsheet. Class ran a little late as I raced to meet all the goals set for the day’s class. Had I bulldozed over their conversation, we would have finished on time.
However, my listening gave the class an unexpected lesson in something they needed right here, right now, to decrease their stress and better focus on their jobs. They saw new ways to leverage technology to work FOR them, not against them.
I saw something new too. In 14 years of teaching, I have grown too comfortable teaching the same old same old. Listening and keeping up with tech advances makes every class a game changer.
Tweeting is make me practice what I teach.