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IDs are from Mars, Teachers are from Venus

Two men sitting and talking

Back in the 90s, psychologist John Gray’s blockbuster Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus posited that partnership troubles stem from different approaches to problems: men were more logical solution-seekers, while women were more empathetic communicators. Today, of course, this binary-gender, mutually-exclusive generalization seems outdated, to put it mildly.

However, some people do solve problems by formulating step-by-step solutions, which they archive as templates for solving future problems. These individuals are drawn to STEM fields … such as technology design.

Others solve problems by empathizing with the people involved, and collaborating with them to reach a place of agreement. These are your “helping professionals” … like teachers.

It’s no wonder, then, that instructional designers and teachers, who would make such a great partnership, constantly misunderstand each other.

Designers, you know how important it is for your teachers to champion your projects; even if you’re working with administrators, like provosts, deans or principals, most of them started off as teachers, too. TeacherSpeak is their native language.

So here I’m going to list four quotes I’ve heard from instructional designers, translate them into TeacherSpeak, and then rephrase them in a way that will win your teachers’ support … even gratitude!

1. You say: “Teachers are experts in their subject, and designers are experts in how people learn online.”

Teacher hears: “You think after so many years working with learners, you’d know something about learning, but you’re wrong.”

Instead, say:Teachers are experts in their profession, and designers are experts in leveraging technology to support them.”


2. You say: “Students today enjoy and learn just as much online as they do in a regular classroom.”

Teacher hears: “The effort, time and caring you’ve invested in your students as unique and valuable individuals is meaningless.”

Instead, say:Designers help teachers connect with their students, no matter where they are.”


3. You say: “Education is digital, and we all must learn to adapt.”

Teacher hears: “You are now rendered useless by technology.”

Instead, say: Designers create solutions for teachers who may feel anxious around technology.”


4. You say: “The last thing you want to do as a designer is get in a room with a bunch of PhDs.”

Teacher hears: “You are unlikeable and no one wants to be around you.”

Instead, say: Designers save teachers time and effort that otherwise would be spent in long training sessions and boring meetings.”

Now the next time a teacher asks you “What does an Instructional Designer do?”, you can answer them in their own language:

“Well, you are the expert in teaching, and I’m an expert in leveraging technology to support you. For one thing, I can help you connect with your students, no matter where they are. I also create solutions for you, if you feel a little anxious around technology. And I will save you time and effort that you’d otherwise have to spend in long training sessions or boring meetings.”

Now, what’s not to love about that?

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