Don’t Stand Still

3 mins reading and 20 mins viewing (if you want to)

I thought I’d share some wisdom here via the words and experiences of Joe Bovalino – a former student, then fellow teacher, now colleague working at another university (i.e. a traitor, but he’s still okay). In addition to teaching Screen Media and other things at Victoria University, Joe is a veteran of radio broadcasting. I tune into Gold 104.3 Melbourne on Saturday mornings as much as I can just to see if I can catch Joe messing up his delivery so that I can send him a congratulatory tweet. But he never does…

A few years ago Joe generously took me for a tour of his workplace at Gold. Following Joe around the labyrinth of recording rooms like an awe-struck child in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and getting a real-world sense of how things actually work, I soon discovered that all my preconceptions about how radio is made (based no doubt on a few episodes of Frasier) were misconceptions.


Perhaps the most surprising discovery that day to a radio newb like myself was finding out how much pre-recording was done behind-the-scenes. The mass of planning was a given, but the fact Joe was speaking ‘to the audience’ not quite as synchronously as it seemed wasn’t something I’d expected. Radio sounds so immediate, so naturally I’d always pictured the host talking into the mic as I was hearing it.

At one point during my visit though, Joe went live. I don’t mention this fact to emphasise that this was probably some of the most nervous 15-20 seconds I’ve ever stood in a room in my life, making sure I didn’t make any noise by knocking something over. I mention this example of live broadcasting because, as Joe explained to me, he typically does at least one segment live to keep himself on his toes; to keep his edge. Joe’s not the only industry practitioner who I’ve had a conversation about this theme with lately either…

So how might all this relate to teaching? Beyond mastering the ability to take a non-blurry classroom selfie, why does a teacher of all people need to worry about keeping their edge…??

Keep Your Edge

20180124_191126There probably comes a point in any career where you feel like you’re simply sailing by: you know the routine (even if there isn’t one), and you’re comfortably able to perform your duties based on a combination of intuition, habit, and experience. You can, to put it another way, ‘rest on your laurels’, if you so choose. Of course, that phrase connotes laziness so the key message here is obviously going to be that it’s best not to rest quite so easy… 🙂

I think some aspects of teaching can bring about the temptation of ‘standing still’ – especially when you feel like you’re always frantically run off your feet. I know there is endless variety and challenges and surprises, but a large number of teachers (at varying levels of education I imagine) will get to teach the same units for years in a row, perhaps with the same assessment, readings, or other learning materials – and maybe even with the same lesson plans or lecture slideshows.

The most depressing thing I’ve ever heard someone say in the teaching profession was – and this is a direct quote:

But I don’t want to learn anything new.

I’m not going to say anything more about that…

Leveling up in some way by doing something different is crucial for teachers and students alike. In previous posts, I’ve already pointed to building and maintaining a learning network or making some media as potentially valuable strategies to enhance teacher motivation. Because motivation matters. Oftentimes students provide this, and sometimes teachers need to take the initiative to grab it – to make it – for themselves.

Anyway, the importance of not standing still is just one thing I’ve learned from Joe – and he’s the last person to say that he’s not still learning new things every day. If you’d like to get more valuable insights from Joe’s experience as a lifelong learner, check out the below video chat from 2016 (which is also podcasted here):

Thanks for visiting, and I’d love to hear about your own strategies for ensuring that you’re never completely standing still… even when you’re always moving?? 🙂


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