Telling Isn’t Teaching


I recently had the opportunity to visit my alma mater and speak to a group of undergrad education majors. I was asked to speak for one hour on any topic I chose. Narrowing it down to one topic was the hardest part! I thought about all of the classrooms I visit and asked myself, “What is ONE thing that can dramatically elevate the quality of our teaching?” Finally, I settled on the topic of teaching strategically rather than just telling or assigning.

I introduced the topic by showing the following video clip about a father trying to teach his son how to catch a baseball. Take a moment to watch this 30-second video clip:

What do you notice about how the father “teaches” Max? What do you notice about how Drew teaches Max?

If you are like most people I have shown this to, you probably said something like, “The dad just told Max to use two hands, while Drew modeled the strategy.” There are many other things we could analyze about this exchange, but, in essence, that is the point I want to make with the video clip. Simply telling someone to do something isn’t the same thing as teaching them.

So how do we get beyond simply telling? Some people would say we need to model for our students, actually show and not just tell. That is a step in the right direction, but I think it goes beyond modeling. In several upcoming blog posts, I will be unpacking strategic teaching a bit more and sharing with you thoughts and ideas that have truly transformed my own teaching!

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