Teaching as a Telenovela

I have never been a fan of a daytime soap opera (that I’m willing to admit in public), but I once had a chance to see one being filmed, and I came away with nothing but respect for their writers, actors, directors, and crew. Five hour-long episodes a week, year after year, is a hell of a slog: where a Broadway actor might have weeks to learn her lines and get into character, a headline character in a telenovela gets one read-through before being put in front of a camera.

Talking to Garrett Grolemund today, I realized that’s the situation most teachers are in. We don’t have time to practice dozens of times before getting on stage. We don’t have time—or rather, our institutions don’t give us time—to workshop our materials and try out a few variations in front of small audiences before giving our real performance. And unlike a Broadway production, we don’t get to do the same thing over and over again; best case, we’ll perform a lesson two or three times in one week for different sections of a course, then set it aside for months until we teach that course again.

I’m still thinking about what this implies for re-using lessons

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