TEACH ANYTHING (2008-ONGOING)
Every semester that I have taught a "Teaching Methods" (aka Facilitating the Art Experience) course I start with an assignment/project called Teach Anything. Teach Anything hypothesizes that every person already knows and employs various teaching methods in their everyday activities. In other words, methods-of/for-teaching are "possessed" and practiced by most individuals and those methods are not exclusive to seasoned teachers and professors of education.
For the Teach Anything assignment, students are ONLY asked to fill a bracket of time with teaching. Depending on how many students are in a class and how long the session(s) are, that bracket of time can vary from 20 to 40 minutes. There are no restrictions on WHAT a student can teach for the Teach Anything assignment. In fact, students are encouraged to teach from their personal expertise. The idea is to encourage rehearsed teaching methods to emerge by eliminating the pressure many developing teachers feel about mastery of content. The Teach Anything assignment--which is also an artwork--is not graded, rather it is formally analyzed by all those who participate in it. From this analysis every participant begins to recognize their own teaching methods and abilities as being under construction--perhaps--from the time that they were born. Students enacting the Teach Anything assignment easily grasp that they do--in fact--know:
how to do a demonstration; how to check for progress; how to form relationships; how to share power; how to ask good questions; how to make a diagram; how to do a presentation; how to tell a story; how to lead a field trip; how to do an experiment; how to show the process; how to collect results; how to remediate and course-correct; how to do group activities or individual activities; how to hand out materials and manage their time; how to lecture, lead a group discussion, and help others to think critically; how to pass along information, design worksheets, do summative and formative assessment, teach new skills, build confidence, learn alongside others, scaffold learning for others; and--even--decipher "their" students' abilities, comfort, engagement, behavior, and aptitude.
Teach Anything attempts to tap into the wealth of teaching methods demonstrated by each of these developing teachers.
In recent years--as is evidenced by some of the photographs on this page--teachers of Teach Anything have taught us:
how to dance Michael Jackson's Thriller; how to tap dance; how to juggle; how to perform CPR; how to hoola-hoop; how to make cootie-catchers; tie-dying; yoga; how to make cheerleader pyramids; and how to spike a volleyball. We've been taught how to make brownies, cookies, salad dressing, pan con tomate, cupcakes, guacamole, and sushi. We've been shown where on campus we could get the best coffee deals for each day of the week. Teachers of Teach Anything have given lectures on the history of beheadings in children's literature; on vampires and werewolves; and on how to beat the classic 8-bit Batman game made by Nintendo. As participants we've been treated to a tour of one student's favorite trees on campus. We learned a dance from Ghana. And we learned how to sign. We've learned how donuts are made; we've sung karaoke; and we've learned about all the different types of clouds. On several occasions we've made friendship bracelets and most recently we made slime using glue, borax, and glitter; we were taken on a museum tour; we were taught how to properly stretch; and we were taught how to properly give someone a shoulder massage. Recent “Teach Anythings” have included lessons on how to line dance, how to play the Mexican game loteria, a thought about critique, how to do the moonwalk, how to play an icebreaker called “signs”, how to have a somber discussion and memorialize the events of 9-11, and how to make lanyard keychains.
Teach Anything is a myriad of content, but more importantly it is a wealth of latent knowledge about how to teach.