My take on Responsive Teaching

February 14th, 2013 | Filed under: thoughts | Tags:

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When I first read what Tiago Pedras was saying on his New Adventures talk, I knew he had hit the bulls eye. He presented Responsive Teaching as a teaching method and by his words this is what it means:

The Web Design is dynamic by nature and explaining it to someone that is just starting can be a daunting task. But this doesn’t need to be slow and boring as any other old school class would be.

(…) there are a significant amount of things that affect out everyday lives as designers that could be improved in the long term if we try to reenforce the community with well taught and aware new designers.

But better than me, Tiago explains the concept in his website. Take a look please.

First experience as a teacher

As I said in this post, I was invited to give a webdesign course on the Lisbon School of Design. I had no previous experience, and the people from LSD bet on me. For that, I will always be grateful.

What I did in classes, as responsible for the design part of the course, was to try to motivate the students to fight, never give up and to be bold and restless. It seems a lot, but anyone who’s well established in our profession knows that it’s the only way to do it. Success doesn’t come easy…

More than teaching Photoshop or Responsive Design concepts, I aimed for one thing. My words were: “What I most want is to see you all in the end not feeling lost”. Because that’s what happens in the vast majority on design courses in Portugal… Almost every student has the same question: “Now what?”. I’ve tried to answer that.

My last experience as a teacher?

Probably not. But I’m no longer there. For reasons that don’t matter right now, I’ve quit. The “problem” was that the students didn’t had any fault on that, and I didn’t want to leave them. After all, the final project was about to start!

The day I went to class to tell them that I was leaving, my life just changed. Their reaction blowed my mind. I wasn’t prepared for that, honestly… People crying (love you all!), astonished with what I was saying…

I never had instant reactions to the way I connect with people when I talk to them as someone who hopes to inspire them. Yeah, in my previous visits to public schools I did that, but then the conversation were followed by email. This time was different, they were there and they where telling me things I had never heard before. Speechless I went.

Holy shit…

My first and instant thought was: “I will never do this again in my life. No more mentoring to me.”. I got scared by the the way I managed my human connections… For you guys that know me, you know that I’m a passionate person and that’s how I live my life. In everything I do, hear, eat… That passion is like a virus when you’re dealing with people who search for happiness and sometimes a new life. But it’s not a normal virus, it’s a virus of love and dedication. A good one 🙂

But then I took a deep breathe… My fears were gone and my designer mind took place. “I will not turn my back just because I’m scared. Lets do it!”. And by do it I was thinking in “Wft am I going to do?”. I knew I wanted to be present in their lifes, to be the one that could push them forward, but how?

The solution

So, after the initial storm I cleared my head and found a solution. If my initial goal on the course was to give them a real insight of what happens in our market (agencies, events, meetups), what’s better that going with them to those places?

That’s how the “Working Wednesdays” were born. Every wednesdays afternoon we met in a creative agency to work on their final projects and to give them the perception of how things are done. Usually I contact the agencies and ask for a meeting room after explaining what I’m doing with the students.

First week we went to Active Media where Jorge, the CEO, and Carlos, the Designer, spent more that 1 hour chatting with them. Priceless.

For the second week I asked Leo from Quodis. They were superb hosts. Leo and Leihla, designer at Quodis, also gave them some very useful tips, so what could I ask more?

The future

My goal is to keep doing it until they end their final school projects and hopefully to give them the opportunities to embrace a new future as professionals. My job as a mentor/”incentivator” is to open some doors for them, but in the end, their will and dedication will define their path. So Ricardo, Diana, Teresa, Fred, Dalila, Andreia and Nuno, the future is yours. Never forget about that.

I need you

This is where I ask for your help. Can you spare a room for one afternoon? If you can, please drop me an email and help me build our future professionals.

PS: A special thank you to Ricardo Castelhano for being part of my brain and help me to think clearly. Also a big thank you to everyone that’s part of my life for the inspiration you give me to do this kind of things. I love you all.


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