‘How you teach is how you do everything’ is the title of a recent blog post written by Jen Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen. I started to read it with skepticism as I don’t usually find a lot of great writing about what it really means to be a teacher – trainer – leaning and development specialist.
Many people are still at the point of having to discover that teaching is an entirely separate skill from one’s subject matter expertise. (For example, just because you know how to make widgets doesn’t mean you automatically know how to teach others to do the same.)
However, with a capital H, I plunged into the post because I respect Jen’s work (don’t yet know Michele). My antennae soon started to perk up and by the end of the second point (of eight) my antennae, were buzzing with delight. Hence I decided to do a series of posts exploring each of the eight points.
Some teachers assume that their students are needy and that needy people will suck them dry.
Others know that we’re all needy, and develop both the compassion and the boundaries to serve without being drained.
My take on ‘needy students’:
Yup, teaching is hard work, really hard work. It takes tremendous energy to constantly be refining both your content and your delivery so it makes for a delicious smorgasbord of learning that participants can’t help but partake.
AND teaching is all about creating the space to fill participants’ needs, for example the need to learn, apply, stretch and grow.
AND self-care as a trainer is critical. Figure out what you need to stay:
- focused on your participants,
- alert for any necessary changes,
- aware of interesting group dynamics that the group can learn from and
- focused and present
In order not to deplete myself I always make sure I have a quiet moment at break to regroup, refocus and plan ahead. I do this even if it means redirecting a participant’s question until later.
Finally I know, after 25+ years of being a passionate trainer that while it can be draining to fill the disparate need of participants, it’s also gas for the gas tank in terms of what I learn and receive from the people I work with.
Far from depleting the tank and having to suck on fumes teaching is top grade, jet propelled fuel for the mind and for the soul.
To find out more about the TeachNow series with Jen Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen (including an interview with yours truly) click here.
Michele Christensen says
I love where you’re going with this, Lee-Anne!
Isn’t it wild how self-fulfilling the “students will suck me dry” prophecy can be when we scramble (e.g. during breaks, as you mentioned NOT doing!) to “meet all their needs,” thereby neglecting our own?
Love it! Can’t wait to see more!
Lee-Anne Ragan says
So glad the post resonated with you Michele. What are some of the ways you prevent ‘sucking fumes’? And yes self-fulfilling prophecies indeed.