3 ways you can become a better teacher this week
Everyone I work with has some teaching ability. It’s innate.
Most people can see the immediate benefit of being taught, but don’t necessarily think of themselves as teachers. Yet if you became a better teacher the benefit to yourself and your team would be enormous.
I’m guessing that you had exposure to close to 20 teachers by the time you had finished high school.
Throw in your sports coaches, dance teachers and the piano teacher with the large mole with hair coming out of it and you are probably closer to 40.
I’m assuming that if you can read this some of your teachers were very good. If you can comprehend it, they were even better.
I wonder how many of your teachers really made an impact on you. Perhaps two?
I remember a lot of my teachers, but probably for the wrong reasons.
Mrs Gonzalez (big lips), Mr Weston (too much aftershave), Bob Ossie (endless American basketball videos) and Mrs Keszi (she was a Cypriot and the way she said Introductory Statistics was worth the school fees).
Perhaps the reason you recall so few is that you weren’t really ready to learn. Timing is always critical in any teacher student relationship.
It takes 4 years to qualify to become a teacher and a life time to master. Think for a moment how hard it must be trying to teach a classroom that is full of children with different skills. Chances are that they all come from different backgrounds and all learn in slightly different ways.
As a leader I’m sure that you devote a lot of your time to helping others to learn new skills and fulfil their potential. You know from experience that it is not easy. You may have a handful of people who report to you. The chances are you find it difficult to get the best out of all of them.
My eldest child, Emily has 29 children in her class. That means her teacher has to find a way, every day of guiding, inspiring, coaching, teaching and mentoring 29 people every school day of the year. Try that for a week and see how you go!
Great teachers are such a rare commodity, yet they are worth so much. Not just for the immediate or short term results that are reflected when you review your child’s school report. Think about how a great teacher can set someone off on a path that they never even knew existed.
They can introduce them to the amazing worlds of space, art, music, science, sport, reading, maths and technology.
This morning I asked my girls (11 and 9) what they like to see in their teachers. I loved their responses. They said, “someone who is organised, fun, has time to actually teach you and funnily enough, actually teaches you”. That might seem fairly obvious, yet I wonder I often it actually occurs.
In your own role how much of your time are you allocating to teach other people new skills.? Some people I know don't know how to set up their auto signature in outlook or on their phone. That's fine. Shouldn't someone teach them how to do it? Not everyone you work with will have the courage to approach you requesting to learn new skills. People can feel very insecure about what they don't know and will go to extreme lengths to mask their inadequacies.
If I reveal that, what else might they think I don't know? Better to stay quiet and just bluff my way through. I've made it this far by saying nothing, so why rock the boat now.
As you move into more senior roles your ability to teach other becomes more important. You can't assume that the people you work with will have the same desires and motivation that you do. You are probably not trained as a teacher, yet you must find a way to teach others. You can't just send people off to courses all the time to learn new skills.
You can become a better teacher very quickly by doing these three things.
- Learn a new skill, an instrument, a language, a new cooking dish. Notice how the person teaching you goes about it. How much talking do they do? How involved are you? How much do they understand your challenges? Do they set you tasks to complete post the session? Adults should always be learning new skills. It keeps you sharp and interesting. Why not make the future you a better version (2.0) than the current version?
- Teach at every opportunity. Read to your dog and see if she barks in appreciation and especially when you pause. You can admire her paws whilst she admires your pauses. Teach people how to clean a BBQ (if you are good at it), learn to surf, kick a football. Why not share your enthusiasm for a subject area through teaching it to others who are interested in learning more.
- Notice the effects of your teaching. If people give up immediately after you have taught them or change the subject quickly there is a very large clue for you. If they want more you are probably on the right track. The success of any teaching often occurs well after the lesson has finished. If they thank you and then start to implement what you have taught them you are definitely heading in the right direction.
Your children's future lies in the hands of your teaching, your role modelling and the teachers that they are exposed to. You have almost no control over the teachers they will be exposed to. You have almost full control over your own teaching and role modelling.
The future of your staff lies in your hands.
Imagine how much stronger your team will become in the future if you could become a better teacher today.