Recording the Great Teachers Seminar…

The Great Teachers 1-day Seminar facilitated by Mike McHargue and dozens of other small-group facilitators at College of the North Atlantic – Qatar on Tuesday March 6, 2012 was a unique take on the usual 3-day retreat format created by David Gottshall.

It was exciting to see the staff filing into the gymnasium for their Professional Development day, as this was the biggest group I have recorded and I knew it would be challenging. With the plotter paper taped and markers poised, I began the poster with the title while the introductions were made and seats taken.

The small group sessions were tricky, but I circulated with my large notepad, taking quick notes when ideas or phrases caught my attention and/or imagination. I am particularly happy when people use metaphors, and if you look closely at the poster, you will see which ones facilitated images and symbols.

The day brought a lot of sharing of expertise and narratives from participants. I particularly enjoyed the 6-word essays about what a “great teacher” is. You can see those in the little banners that appear around the edges of the poster.

All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience. I spent the day at the poster (from about 8am-3pm) and then another 2 hours or so the next day finishing up and adding the 6-word essays. Because the many facilitators had taken their own notes and I was unable to keep up with the afternoon sessions, I also referred to those notes to synthesize the ideas represented in the “blocks” on the poster. I had some help with this, thankfully, as by that time it started to feel like overkill. Looking at the poster now, I feel it is very text-heavy and not enough of the pictures really “pop”…perhaps because of the mono-chromatic theme of each discussion topic. These are the things I am learning as I gain more experience. That is the amazing thing about graphic recording – I learn so much each time I do it.

I definitely prefer capturing the process in real time, as opposed to aiming for the inclusion of other people’s notes. In this particular seminar, it made sense for the organizers, as they wanted me to represent the contributions of as many participants as possible. However, having done this, I think a smaller group is best (for me), and I am happy to take responsibility for synthesizing the ideas that seem most relevant to the aims of the group and the client. I believe this is the role of the graphic recorder, after all.

On another note, I felt comfortable recording this session, as it dealt with issues of teaching and learning – which also happen to be my area of expertise. I am currently scheduling some sessions with groups outside of my immediate field to see how I do when the jargon is unfamiliar and I am a little out of my element.

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