I was a GM before I landed my current day job as a teacher of photography, and reflecting on the past several terms and my students’ comments in their post-class evaluations, I’ve come to realize something; a great part of my effectiveness at teaching comes from my experience in GM’ing. This is only part of the debt I owe to the influence of RPGs in my life.
Among the GM’ing techniques and tenets I’ve found useful:
Engage and Entertain:
Make `em laugh. Give everyone something interesting to do. Idle moments are dead moments. Keep it light and lively.
Students are encouraged not only to take photographs, but to tell stories. To think in terms of story.
Make it a Game:
Free exploration is encouraged. Competitiveness is encouraged. Posing learning problems for the students to solve is very much like GM’ing a dungeon crawl.
Encourage a casual atmosphere where everyone’s comments and questions are welcome. Nobody asks a question when they believe there are negative consequences for doing so.
But like players in an RPG, students need to ask questions, and the GM/teacher needs to hear those questions. Questions mean engagement. Questions mean interest. Questions are springboards for going forward.
With my busy sked nowadays, I miss GM’ing games. But here’s a compensation: I get much the same kind of fun I had running games from teaching my classes. It’s not work, it’s play. Much better than the Gandalf Method*!
*The Gandalf Method of teaching is summed up by these four words: YOU SHALL NOT PASS!