How to be a great teacher in 7 not-so-easy steps











1. First, forget about the teaching part. Teaching implies that you have a modicum of control over what people are learning. Nice as that sounds, it’s simply not true. Individuals learn or don’t learn. It’s really up to them.


2. Pay attention to the whole person, and multiply by the number of students in your class. They are: (grand)parents, sons, daughters, workers, travelers, artists, builders, athletes, collectors and teachers. They have amazing stories to tell. They honour you by being present.


3. Put yourself last. In other words, it’s about them not you. Their needs, their experience, their enjoyment, their comfort, trust, connection.


4. Stimulate curiosity and pique peoples’ interest. People value knowledge and skills that help them solve a problem or make some part of their lives easier or better. People also get engaged when they have a chance to examine and challenge their own or others’ assumptions, knowledge, values, ideas and beliefs. That includes your assumptions, knowledge, values, ideas or beliefs.


5. Make it fun. Children learn by playing, experimenting, risking and testing limits. So do adults.


6. Inspire further learning. It’s axiomatic that “the more we learn, the more we realize how little we know” (to paraphrase Socrates). In other words, it’s not so much the content that you cover in a class or workshop, it’s the gift of inspiring even one person to want to learn and practice more. Learning isn’t a single event – it’s a continuous process – so the goal is to initiate or inspire a continuation of that process.


7. And last but not least: don’t take it personally. Not everyone is in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. Learner autonomy means just that –and sometimes learning takes time to germinate. A long time. I guess that’s called wisdom?




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