If we all took the time to become better teachers, we’d all become better learners. It’d be to our advantage in the workplace. Teaching is a part of every job. Therefore, it’s also your job.
We see knowledge being passed around everywhere – books, blogs, and other informational pieces allow others to easily follow our steps and get results. However, refreshing yourself in the basics of teaching will allow you to pinpoint where you could use it more effectively in your work or home life.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
-William Arthur Ward
To become an inspiring teacher, you must:
Ignite the desire to learn
Create a lively environment for your audience, and engage them through your enthusiasm for the topic. Without a desire to absorb what you’re preaching, the learners will not benefit.
I love learning directly from another person because the feeling is so natural, like I was meant to learn this way. No textbook or video or podcast could ever be the same as me interacting with another human being, face-to-face.
Know your stuff
You’ve got to know it to show it. Become informed about the latest innovations in your specialty so that you’re ready to address any new concerns of your audience. A solid understanding of your material will also help reduce nervousness (especially during a large lecture or other high-stress situation).
Cater to different learning styles
This can be accomplished through using kinesthetic, visual, and auditory methods when teaching a skill; at least one is bound to strike the right chords with the learner.
Use clear language
Choice of language should be appropriate for your target audience, but the simpler the better.
Copy those who can teach
How did you learn to tie your shoes, tell a story, or drive a car? It’s very possible to learn on your own with enough cycles of experimentation and failure, but I’ll bet that you were able to watch someone else do it long enough to soak up the general gist of it. Learn from others who are teaching. Imitating a great teacher will allow their professionalism to rub off on you.
Make the difference – Yes, YOU
When we are able to teach others our success, we raise humanity to greater capabilities and foster a sense of community and kinship. Strengthening your teaching abilities allows you to empower others. And that’s what human interaction should be about: empowerment.
My favorite childhood cartoon came on the other day – Looney Tunes! Since both my dad and sister were partaking in this marathon cartoon-watching, I let myself in on the fun and ended up watching TV for over an hour – something I rarely ever do. The satisfaction of reliving an old, beloved cartoon was great for the first thirty minutes, but my excitement level began to wane. It became BORING. So then why did I continue watching for so long after the initial excitement had worn off? Because it was easier to keep doing the same thing than to begin a new activity.
People do this all the time in business. When a company creates an ineffective ad campaign, but still runs regularly on TV, it is an example of the status quo prevailing.
It’s hard to quit an action when you’ve put so much work into it. It’s also difficult to quit an action that hasn’t had much thought put into it at all (namely if there’s a large chunk of time invested).
When a certain method is already working, it seems as if it could be the only option—even if it’s not worth your time anymore.
Granted, it’s hard to justify putting in the time for a trial run that may or may not be better than the original. Lots of variables must be tested before the best result can be found.
In the end, you can tell that your current situation is a time waster if it’s not fulfilling the duties of productivity or inspiration. TV is just a placeholder for creativity, as are many other time wasters. Unless you’re analyzing the content of the show, the information you view is passively absorbed.
The question then becomes, “How do you detach yourself from the status quo when you find that it’s become a time waster?”
Name the leeches
What are your worst time wasters? I, for one, end up reading articles from other blogs much more often than I’d like to admit. This is a good thing in the sense that it allows me to soak up more ideas and apply them to my blogging or to my life, but bad because I could be focusing on creating highly unique content and posting it on my own blog. The main problem here is that I’m surfing the net in excess. Inspiration coming from others is wonderful, but an obsession with others’ opinions is not.
Detach leeches with salt
Can you identify why you’re seeking these time wasters as crutches? Why aren’t you focusing on work that matters during these moments?
Salt, when sprinkled onto leeches, is an effective way to combat their sucky nature.
Whatever you do, take some time out and think about what the root of the problem is. Nipping it at the bud will help start you on a path of productive motion so your default activity won’t be a random time waster.
The magical time of my 21st birthday is coming up quickly (in November), and the question of adulthood is lurking on my mind. Laws in America would have me believe that turning age 21 automatically makes a person an adult, but if I look within myself I can say that I don’t feel like I’m two months away from the transition. So, I came up with six qualifiers that allow me to define the word “adult” and what it means to hold that title.
I believe that to be an adult, you must possess certain qualities that allow you to:
1. Rely on yourself emotionally.
For a healthy foundation, you must be in charge of your emotions. They cannot rule you, or you might not do what’s best for yourself. Impulsive reactions based on anger, fear, and guilt can only harm your relationship with others and cause deep-rooted regret.
Focusing within yourself to solve the mind’s problems is a good idea for another reason. You’re able to ignore the possibility of misleading advice from frenemies (borderline friend + enemy), and ultimately take charge of your own life.
2. Have a sense of independence.
This idea goes hand in hand with Number 1 on the list, but also goes a little deeper. You should be able to feel secure about taking care of the necessary aspects of your life including the financial, health, self-education, and relationship.
It’s completely fine to need a helping hand sometimes. In fact, I’ve even built that into my definition of adulthood (Hint: It’s the next step).
3. Build relationships with others.
Besides possessing self-reliance, another important trait would be the ability to form relationships. A building block of society and its businesses is to create a synergistic environment where the highest amount of collaboration and productivity ensue. This is essential for the growth of communities and organizations alike.
4. Own your values.
This means not bending to the requests of others when they don’t fall in line with your universal truths and values. Despite wanting to be friendly and cooperative, an adult will remember the forces that drive them, and their reasons for living life. These ideals exist in any mind, young or old, but the consciousness that it takes to reveal them aren’t usually found in the former. An easily-swayed adult is not much different from an unknowing child.
5. Think critically.
Upon encountering a grown person, I expect them to be opinionated about certain topics, but open to the possibilities of the opposing viewpoint. Also, being able to decipher meaning from convoluted information is a necessary skill to defend oneself legally. This ability allows for complex input coming from the adult and being entered into society.
6. Improve yourself.
In essence, to be an adult is to form expectations for your life and in doing so, fulfill goals and positively affect others around yourself. This person is mature because they have a need to contribute and the ability to do so. This person will continually find ways to improve themselves to move along with the everlasting quest for meaning in this world.
An adult is both savvy and well-rounded, for these are the qualities that I would most like each grown member of society to have.
The things I’ve listed here in this article are what I consider to be the bare minimum for entry requirements into adulthood. In order to be an effective adult who is highly functioning, I believe there are many more requirements that must be met.
What do you think? What have I missed and what have I gotten right?
The best way to make sure that you are continually improving yourself is to track the systems you use to make growth a priority in your life.
After recently reading Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, I was inspired to write my thoughts down more often. Goldberg argues that writing practice is akin to stretching before a run. You must do it often to warm yourself up, and you can’t expect gold whenever you sit down to do it.
Journaling is also a wonderful way to find yourself. In my experience, it has allowed me to vent my frustrations without spreading misfortune unto others.
There are a variety of methods that you can use to journal, but I prefer using the computer. When writing straight from my thoughts, I simply can’t keep up with a pen and paper.
Create a Reading Log
This can include a list of books that you have completed, the dates of start and finish, and your notes. Taking in the ideas of others and turning them around in your head is the quickest way to open your mind about new topics and learn pertinent information that you can share with others. You’d be a stale conversation mate if the topics you mentioned in conversation remained the same week after week.
In addition to recording the books you’ve already read, it’s a good idea to keep a list of books that you’d like to read next (for the sake of convenience and to form a habit).
Have a Goals List
Every year you should take the time to visualize yourself in a year’s time. You’ll be surprised at how accurately you can unfold that vision if it’s what you truly want. Your mind will likely continue to churn those goals over month after month, allowing you to be open to opportunities that would otherwise be passed over.
The first step is writing things down so that you’re consciously aware of your subconscious.
(P.S. Here’s a list of my goals.)
How is it that some people are able to quickly get the hang of a skill or technique?
Perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics and explore ways in which people have succeeded by pushing themselves through to the end by first obtaining foundational base knowledge.
Kindergarten children kick butt at learning to read. The key is that they are at the right developmental stage to learn reading skills. After they are given the basic understanding that letters have sounds and that we combine those sounds into words, they are fully set up to progress at an exponential rate.
For two thirds of the school year, I tutored kindergarteners at a bilingual center. I returned after not seeing them for a couple of months and they had all made vast improvements in their reading skills.
They had learned the methods that allowed them to soak up the valuable information that is ever-present in this technologically advanced world. All that they need to do is practice and nurture their newfound skills.
Most surprising to me was the explosive rate at which they had broken through the reading barrier. It was as if, upon my return, I had stepped into tutoring a whole new age group.
Adults who are striving to achieve competence in an area can also achieve exceptional success by learning the foundation. The only catch is that one must be mentally and emotionally ready for the venture. After you recognize the key components of whichever skill you are pursuing, you have a much higher chance of seeing things through to the end because you’ll be confident that you understand the basic system.
For example, if you are trying to become informed about fashion, you’ll want to understand a couple of things.
Find the Outlining Ideas
First off, there are fashion designers who put their visions out onto the runway every season. These people are highly revered because of the way they are able to reinvent and renew what we’re already wearing or what we have yet to try.
There are also specific names for types of clothing depending on neckline, heaviness of the garment, time of release, and special patterns that are printed on the item.
Each store that sells clothing will have a different feel and style to it. You’ll want to know where to shop that allows you to keep you in sync with your budget for clothing.
People have their own unique way of expressing themselves. There are labels for stereotypical styles.
Explore Each Subtopic
The hard work is understanding the prevailing categories that define each system that you’ll attempt to learn. After playing around with those larger ideas, you’ll want to delve into each one and find out as much as you can about each category.
Another important aspect is that motivation and repetition counts a lot in this initial process of breakthrough. It was no accident that the kids who were most proficient at reading were the ones who were most excited about being read to.
People hit a stage in their lives where, after they are prepared mentally and emotionally for a task and understand the general structure, they are able to achieve greatly on their own.
However, the ability to understand the main ideas is the most important aspect because without that basic understanding, you wouldn’t be able to search for the information you need.
Get yourself to a level where you are able to expand upon the beginning knowledge. At this point, I believe that I know enough of the Spanish language by taking classes in high school and at my university to be able to study it effectively on my own (by reading) or by speaking (with a partner or native speakers).
By building upon the basic levels of understanding, we are able to rapidly increase our learning curve, growing independently after we are given the formula and possess the drive to be able to complete such tasks.
What can you do today to prepare yourself to do something you’ve always wanted to? How can you give yourself a running start? Feel free to share your thoughts below.