Vanguard Teaching

Front and center of tomorrow's society – learn smarter, teach harder

An Ode To A Reality TV Master Teacher

From Project Runway, co-host Tim Gunn is my model teacher hero. His role on Project Runway is to help advise the show’s contestants on how to make their designing vision become a reality during each episode challenge. Gunn strikes me as a great example of a model teacher for many reasons.  Here is how he measures up based on snippets from my teacher evaluation template:

Addressing contestants: Gunn collectively calls the show’s contestants “designers.” No biggie, right? No, this is important. He gives them the moniker of what they have aspired to be (and that is why they are on the show). I remember my two teacher mentors stressed that I call my students “scholars,” “historians,” and other names to help them embody what you hope your teaching will produce. It has an amazing effect in the minds of your students scholars.

Constructive feedback: He gives praise when it is due and provides constructive criticism that has hints of humor and candor. Basically, he (wait for it) differentiates his methods of how he criticizes the show’s contestants. Gunn’s passion to inspire designers to reach their potential is highly commendable and is far from TV theatrics. (Then again, doesn’t teaching involve a bit of theater?). Watch him in action and leave in awe. If he is acting, then dammit, give that dude an Emmy five times over.

Class/behavior management: There have been many incidents of emotional meltdowns and verbal and near physical confrontations on Project Runway. Mr. Gunn has the amazing ability to stay calm and use empathy mixed with intellect to help be a solution and not a problem in confrontational situations. This teacher clearly understands one of the most important skills when gaining the students’ trust – he listens to them, cares, and shows that he cares.

Am I proposing that teachers ditch mandatory professional development sessions to stay home and watch reality shows that have “student” contestants produce creative products that will be judged based on set criteria of 21st-century skills? Heavens to Betsy, no. I’m just strongly suggesting that you load your computer device with enough episodes of these shows to get you by at those uninspiring professional development classes.

Want to watch a master teacher in motion? Please watch Mr. Gunn work.

Below is my full classroom observation review of Mr. Gunn using my observation template.

Tim Gunn Teacher Review Page 1 Tim Gunn Teacher Review Page 2 Tim Gunn Teacher Review Page 3 Tim Gunn Teacher Review Page 4

Hayes Teacher Review of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn PDF


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