Everybody teaches – bosses, parents, coaches, pastors, CEO’s, consultants, and supervisors. We try to help others learn better skills, processes, values, beliefs, or knowledge. Some do it better than others.
Many treat teaching like it’s easy, though. Like riding a bike, they think once you’ve done it, it’s an easy cruise from there. You just keep pedaling like you’ve always done. The good ones don’t take that approach. They pay attention to the craft, think in advance about it, and sometimes even practice! They are anything but apathetic toward being a better teacher.
Here are 9 “Teaching Rules.” Well, they’re more like guidelines really, that will plunder away apathy toward teaching and help you discover the treasure of success. Or something like that.
1. Patience is a teaching virtue … so is openness to innovation. Good teachers give students a lot of room and time to learn and “get it.” They also keep trying new ways to teach better. Good teaching requires a unique combination of endurance and drive.
2. Learning is what is received, not what is taught. I may repeat this again later, but teaching is not what we say, but what is learned. Their learning matters more than our teaching. Too often we teach as if the opposite is true.
3. Don’t train others, develop them. Some of us “teach to the task,” helping those that are part of a team, a production line, or a group to function. Don’t forget that there’s a person behind the task, a person who has dreams and goals of their own. Some of those could benefit you and your group. Get closer to your students.
4. Don’t assume that people know until they act on what they know. Any experienced parent can tell you this. “I know, mom!” doesn’t mean a thing until the parent sees it in action. Good intentions mean little. College professors see this all of the time. A good grade in writing class one semester doesn’t guarantee that the student will take those new understandings into his/her sociology class next semester.
5. Rarely use talk for longer than 7 minutes without changing methods. Few people can hang with you longer than that well. Just watch how often our media shifts and changes. We’ve been conditioned to expect changes. We’re sparked mentally when there’s a change, we’re motivated “emotionally” to give learning more energy as well.
6. Use interactive methods (especially discussion and buzz groups) more often to make sure everyone is talking about your content. A consistent critique of most teaching, programs, and events is that it lacked interactive elements. Teaching too often looks like a transfer of knowledge with only one person doing 80% or more of the speaking. You’ll never know if your learners understand unless you here them talk about the learning.
7. Turn people loose to act on their knowledge. Teach to answer the “so what know?” question that learners usually have. Help them know what immediate steps for the following 24 hours, the next week, and beyond. Inspire others, don’t just inform them!
8. Take the role of a coach versus that of an expert. The goal of teaching isn’t that we teach, it’s that others learn. The traditional view of a teacher is that he/she is the smartest person in the room and has the knowledge that others need to also possess. But, the sports world shows us over and over that the best developers of others (the “coaches”) often weren’t that great of players themselves. They’ve learned that coaching has a very different posture.
9. Evaluate how it went (see #2 and #4). I am no longer surprised when I discover how little evaluation happens in “teaching’ situations. It’s especially absent in Christian ministry circles. If the program went off without a hitch, we assume it was good. What if we aimed higher than a smooth program for our work? What if we found a way to assess what those listening and participating experienced and learned?
Before you move on, write down the two that jumped out at you and then spend a minute on each making a plan on how to implement that one today and in the coming days. Once you give the new rule a try, I’d love to hear on Facebook or Twitter how it went!