TLYP, or Teach Like You’re in a Panto, is the title of my seminal new work, which will be arriving in all school libraries soon. In it, I describe (or is that ‘explain’?) ninety-nine tried-and-tested techniques for the sage on the stage to bring knowledge to all age(s).
Okay, I’m joking, obvs. But this seemingly ridiculous idea came about after a few conversations with an excellent PGCE student. One of the things I’m really keen on helping teachers develop is their ability to talk brilliantly. Exposition is such an underrated piece of craft, but also such an important one. My colleague and I have been trying to help said-student teacher improve this – she has everything else and will make a fab teacher, but this is one area where she and – to be fair – many others struggle. Not in a whole-lesson-falls-apart way, but in a Why can’t I make the reading bit great? way.
We’ve been deliberately going OVER THE TOP to demonstrate this, but I think there might be a simpler way to explain it: Teach Like You’re in a Panto.
Alright, that’s absurd. But there’s something there, no? It’s all very well honing your explanation to a grade one, with every syllable counted like calories, but let’s make these calories count. In history, and English (and drama, and RE, and any time you’re telling a story) the way it’s told is often as important as what’s told as well. Let’s elonnnnnnnnngate certain words, whilst SHRT. SHRPLY. VI-TAL words are spoken as such. Let’s open our bodies with surprise when the surprise surprises us, taking in a deep breath, and RAISE and lower our voices, altering our timbre, with the ebb and flow of the plot.
And be a bit silly. Not entertainingly so, not outrageously so, but ever-so-slightly over-the-top. I keep saying, ‘Remember you’re talking to children. How would you do that at home, with your little cousins? It’s not patronising: it’s storytelling.’ It’s easy to dismiss this, but the best teachers I’ve seen (there’s my evidence) do this really well. They don’t do it all of the time, but they can talk in a way which tells stories, even if they’re not telling a story, even if they’re explaining the exam. It is, I suppose, a bit like an exaggerated lilt.
I might video myself doing this. I might not. (Actually, I might.) In the meantime, if you’re struggling to explain storytelling why not suggest something along these lines? Or, just say to Teach Like You’re in a Panto.