An Interview with Rachael Mann

Founder and Manager Director #TeachLikeTED

February 6, 2017
Email Interview with Rachael Mann

Rachael Mann is a former high school Career and Technical Education
teacher with 14 years of classroom experience.

Since leaving the classroom, she has served as the Director of Educators Rising Arizona and as the Director of the Network to Transform Teaching at Northern Arizona University. She has also served as a fellow for the Association for Career and Technical Education Arizona and as an NCLA Region V Board Member.

In 2015, Rachel founded #TeachlikeTED and today serves as the
#TeachLikeTEd managing director.

Rachael, what is #TeachLikeTED?

#TeachLikeTED is an organization that has produced a series of presentations on the characteristics that make the most viewed TED-Talks so popular.

These presentations were originally created to help teachers prepare more engaging classroom lessons, but since then #TeachlikeTED has moved far beyond the original goal.

Yes it is true that the primary goal of #TeachLikeTED is still to help teachers prepare more engaging classroom presentations, but additonal presentations are now also available.

This includes presentations that help teachers address audiences at events such as School Board meetings, parent-teacher conferences, Back-to-School Nights, and professional learning workshops.

#TeachLikeTed has also produced a series of presentations that are designed for students who wish to present like TED.

If I were to attend one of your #TeachLikeTED presentations, what might be my main takeaway?

If you were to attend one of my #TeachLikeTED presentations, you would learn above all else that the best teacher (and student) presentations follow ten #TeachLikeTED Commandments.

  1. Take a Novel Approach or Look for Novelty
  2. Deliver Jaw-Dropping Moments
  3. Share Your Passion
  4. Tell a Story
  5. Be Authentic
  6. Embrace the Remix
  7. Keep the Important Thing the Important Thing
  8. Incorporate Humor
  9. Make it Visual
  10. Stick to the 18 Minute Rule

Please describe one of your ten #TeachLikeTED Commandments.

One of the #TeachlikeTED Commandments you would learn about is the “stick to the 18-minute rule commandment.”

According to the TED Talks team, presentations should not be longer than 18 minutes because once they pass that point, the audience cannot take in any more information. In John Medina’s book, Brain Rules, he explains the science behind what makes people pay attention and want to listen. Medina states that 18 minutes is the “Goldilocks” length of time, anything longer and your audience will start to tune out.

I would remind educators that if they were planning to deliver a 50 or 90 minute classroom presentation, they should break it up into segments and incorporate activities to use different parts of the brain to keep the audience engaged.

Aside from learning about the #TeachlikeTED Commandments and how to apply them to my classroom presentations, is there anything else that I would learn about and/or do at one of your #TeachLikeTED presentations?

Depending on the group and the amount of time allotted, participants typically also get an opportunity to examine technology tools and resources.

Also, when delivering “Creating and Delivering Jaw-Dropping Presentations”, participants are typically provided the tools and apps needed to create dynamic images and embed short video clips into their presentations.

At the #SpeaklikeTED presentations, which are geared toward preparing students to speak in public, we go into depth on knowing your audience, use of body language, appropriate dress, and dealing with nervousness.

How do you respond to those who say, “#TeachLikeTED isn’t needed, the day of teacher lecturing is over, thank goodness.”

The days of teachers as lecturers are gone (thankfully!), but that doesn’t mean teachers can’t study their presentation skills to develop and grow in their craft. It’s all about inspiration, and spreading ideas is what teachers want to achieve. To inspire means to get students excited and engaged, but teachers cannot inspire and engage unless they have learned to communicate the topic in a way that sparks a student’s imagination, and when teachers begin to see themselves as presenters, students become inspired. That’s where #TeachLikeTED comes in.

When you say that #TeachLikeTED helps students learn how to share their ideas in a TED-style fashion, does this mean that you actually go to schools to do this or that the students come to you?

I go to where the students are; whether that is in the classroom, at a conference, or in another location. One of the things that I am increasingly called upon to do is help students create and/or develop what’s called a TED-Ed Club. This is an opportunity for students to discover, explore, and present their big ideas in the form of short, TED-style talks.

What are your hopes for #TeachLikeTED in 2017?

One of my hopes is to find sponsors and grants so that #TeachlikeTED can be offered in true TED passion — available to all ideas worth spreading.

Another one of my hopes is to find an educator who is willing to partner and possibly cowrite a #TeachlikeTED book. When delivering a presentation at a conference or a school, I do not have the luxury of learning how teachers apply the learning unless they contact me and share these stories. I would like to be able to document how educators actually implement #TeachlikeTED principles in the classroom and how they impact student learning. This will also provide concrete illustrations to use in workshops and presentations so that teachers can learn from each other’s successes.

I also hope that presentation literacy is added to every teacher prep program and professional learning workshop provided throughout a teacher’s career and that teacher prep programs and professional learning administrators increasingly look to #TeachLikeTED to provide much valued assistance.

One additional thought is to encourage schools to incorporate a TEDx event for seniors as part of their senior project, or a similar event in which students will have a platform to share their ideas. I may eventually approach TED Talks to see if they have an interest in piloting a charter school with presentation literacy as the foundation.

What’s been the most interesting thing you’ve learned as a result of your work with #TeachLikeTED.

Above all else, I’ve learned that many outstanding teachers suffer from a fear of presenting to adults. I’ve also learned that many School Board members and Superintendents sincerely wish that their teachers would present to their Boards the wonderful work that their teachers do. My #TeachLikeTED presentations give teachers the tools needed to overcome their fear and to present very engaging presentations.

One other very interesting thing I have learned is that the billionaire Warren Buffett has said that the only degree that hangs in his office is the one that means the most, his certification for completing a $100 Dale Carnegie public speaking course.

Any closing comments/remarks

By applying the presentation skills of the most effective TED Talks in the classroom, we will transform education. By teaching presentation literacy to students, we will transform the world.