How can you turn theory into practice? This is something I work and struggle with every day, whether it be at home, for my clients, for my business or for my students in the classroom. It is critical to make theory relevant for people and help them use it in their own lives, on a daily basis. And as one of my favorite sayings goes: Practice makes better practice!
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One of the greatest tricks I learned from a mentor of mine was to make theory relevant and actionable. That’s all well and good, but what do I mean by that? To help answer that question, I share some stories in this week’s episode of Reflective Fridays as well as additional ones below.
Methods for Teaching my MBA course
My MBA class started yesterday (I teach Business, Government and Global Economy in the Simmons College MBA program here in Massachusetts). I have the privilege to work with 16 students this semester. It’s a night course because they are all working full-time and going to school full-time at night. And I have total appreciation and kudos to them because I did the same thing 16 years ago when I worked full-time and went full-time at night to earn my Masters in Health Care Administration degree. So, I know that while theory may be interesting, I need to make things practical and relevant for my students.
I also know that I need to be flexible and adaptable, which is why I took feedback from last semester’s students and changed the curriculum of the course a bit.
- Instead of 3 10-15 page papers, they will have 2-3 page memos.
- Instead of one presentation at the end, they will have presentations that coincides with their memos.
I did this because no one reads long reports at work, but they are responsible for sharing information in a concise manner (i.e., the memo) AND people need to be able to communicate their ideas and share content verbally (i.e., the presentations).
In addition, instead of choosing different companies to write about throughout the semester, groups are choosing one company to follow. So, I am taking theory of how businesses and governments [sometimes] collaborate and how that fits into the global economy – and making it real because each group will do research and dig deeper into their companies, creating and developing a fuller, richer story.
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Turning theory into practice isn’t just something I do in the classroom; it’s also something I do at home. In theory, we are all part of the family and need to contribute and support one another. In practice, it looks like this:
- Daddy does the grocery shopping; boys unload grocery bags from the car and bring them to the kitchen; Mama unloads the bags and puts things away [with the help of Daddy since he is more organized than Mama].
- Boys have dirty clothes so they wash them, dry them and Mama and Daddy help folding when asked.
- We all want clean bathrooms so we work together on the weekend [usually Sunday morning] and clean the bathrooms.
I could keep going here but I think you get the idea. In theory, we should work together but in practice, we make simple steps to follow to help get things done around the house, which leaves us time to build more of our America Ninja Warrior course downstairs, play games, read, watch the Patriots play on Sunday! etc.
So, bringing it all together, I truly believe that practice doesn’t make perfect but practice does make better practice. When teaching something to others, whether it be students, co-workers, kids, etc. it is really important to think about how you can make a method or system or theory real to them. The sooner they can put it into practice, the sooner they will learn more and work their way to Mastery.
What can you do to make things more relevant and actionable?