• Category Archives Teaching
  • Being a Dungeon Master helps in being a Teacher

    1988 was a significant year in my then rather young life:

    • For one, I would go on a student exchange with the USA (Hill-Murray School, to be precise) later that year
    • Some of my longest-lasting friendships began that year
    • I started fantasy role-playing, Dungeons & Dragons and the Lone Wolf single-player books, amongst others in 1988.

    And role-playing games have had an almost bizarre influence on my life ever since. If I had not become a role-player, I would not have gone to Nottingham to work for Games Workshop and I would not have gotten into contact again with my oldest friend, who had also become a role-player. He introduced me to who is now my wife, she is also a role-player.

    At first, I was one of the dungeon crawlers but when our dungeon master was unavailable for a time, we all took turns running shorter adventures and after a while, I took over as dungeon master more or less full time (except when we played Shadowrun and Earthdawn, but that was already a few years later).

    As fellow dungeon masters and role-players will agree, dungeon mastering teaches you a number of very important skills:

     

    • Patience (because a gaggle of role-players can be unruly)
    • Being a fair disciplinarian (because a gaggle of role-players can be unruly, but you do not want to spoil the fun for anybody)
    • Improvisation (because someone will inevitably come up with something you did NOT expect or role three natural twenties in a row)
    • Being an information-sponge (because you wnat to use the contents of the latest source book as soon as possible)
    • Creativity (needs no explanation)
    • A civilized outlet for a sadistic streak (for when patience does not cut it anymore)
    • The list goes on…

     

    I have been a teacher for the past six months now, enjoying it immensely, and I have found that a lot of the skills I gained and honed as a dungeon master now turn out to be tremendously helpful in teaching.

    Creativity makes for interesting and unusual lessons, patience and being a fair disciplinarian are quite obviously essential and information-sponging is necessary because I had a break in being a full-time teacher that lasted ten years so obviously, I have to learn a lot of new things myself.

    Improvisation is also key, especially when the children come up with unusual answers (and by Oghma, do they come up with unusual answers) or when you missplanned the lesson or the pupils are quicker than usual and there is still time left before the bell rings.

    And concerning the sadistic streak, you all went to school, you know what I am talking about….

    So basically, being a dungeon master is one great way to prepare for being a teacher, I have also managed to interest one of my pupils to take a look into old school pen & paper role-playing games, instead of only playing online. Maybe more will follow, let’s see.

    And there are also (metaphorical) dragons to be slain around here, the fun and tension never ends…

     

    Header image is of course the © the magnificent Jeff Easley, fair use.

  • And then I noticed I am the resident Tech-Priest / Technomage

    For the past almost four months I have been working as a teacher and it has thus been the best time of my working life (not counting university and actually eclipsing my time with Games Workshop).
    Before that, I spent the last ten years working with, in, and on the internet. Mostly SEO-related stuff, but also some social media and some backend development and programming. Of xourse, I learned a few things and tricks during this time and I know some tools which are not common knowledge or not as commonly known as I would like.

    As I state on my personal portfolio site, I am a proponent of using the internet in the class room and now there is something I noticed:
    The majority of my colleagues are not really internet-savvy, which is something I hope to change.
    For example, I used the service of Animaker to create this video, which I used as an opener for a lesson recently (and which really impressed my tutor):

    Time to do this: About half an hour.

    Then we had the problem that we needed some listening-comprehension material for the novel all the 8th graders are reading at the moment, so I did the following (please click the file):

    Again, my tutor was rather pleased with the results I delivered.
    There have also been instances of teachers being concerned that pupils were using the Darknet. All that was happening was, as we found out a bit later,  that the pupils were chatting via a service provided by a certain website where you can purchase things. Steam.com.

    I have not felt so much like a tech-priest of Mars or a technomage from the Babylon 5 universe in my life…

    What is even better (or worse), there is a pupil in one of my classes they call „The Hacker“ (his classmates do). So, when I casually started a conversation about Linux and the benefits of dual-boot machine (we were talking about the Internet and social networking sites during sociology) he told me he knew some JavaScript and that was it. So no, no hacking potential there, yet.

    So, the next steps I think I have to take is spread the knowledge of useful tools on the web to my colleagues (and pupils) and cure some of my other colleagues of their fear of unknown sites and/or the internet in general.

    The internet is an excellent pool of ressources for teaching and also a great medium for teaching in and of itself, to neglect this in this time would do our pupils a severe disservice and it should not happen.