What Makes a Teacher Great?
I've taken lots of classes and have been lucky enough to have a few very gifted teachers. From their greatness, I learn not only the content of what they're teaching, but also what gives them thatcertain something that makes students want to keep coming back again and again.
What I have found is that you don't necessarily have to be an expert at what you do. You don't have to be perfectly polished and 100% together. Your students are not seeking perfection, they're looking for information, inspiration, connection and maybe a little entertainment for good measure.
So, how can you create classes that get your students fired up? Here are seven qualities I've gleaned from my teachers that you can consider for yourself:
1) Great Teachers are genuinely interested in your growth. They can set aside their own personal issues, self-consciousness and "need to be right" to truly reach you. They are passionate about their craft and want to share that enthusiasm with you. They want you to truly get it and become as excited about your own possibilities as they are. They see you as a person with the potential for growth and help you to see it too.
2) They inspire you to think in new ways and make new connections. They create a shift in your thinking and a sense of possibility for what you can create yourself. They get your mental gears cranking so that you're eager to run home and try what you've learned on your own. They give you the skills you need and encourage your belief that you can do it.
3) They seek to connect with you, often by sharing personal stories that show they are a real person too and not just a talking bobble head. They can be entertaining and humorous which makes learning fun and engaging. They understand that making it fun helps people learn better.
4) They are confident and project confidence. They speak with belief and assurance, which builds your confidence in them and your trust in them as your guide. There is no wishy-washy indecision. (As a student, be wary of people who may just be confidently projecting crap-you should always question things that don't seem right no matter how convincingly offered.)
5) They use their powers of perception to "read" the class. They are in tune with where each person is and what they might need to slow down with or revisit. They adjust accordingly and often offer extra support outside of class to those who might have trouble keeping up.
6) They're clear and concise. They make the outcomes of the class known ahead of time and move you toward those outcomes. In the hugely popular B-School, Marie Forleo outlines exactly what you'll get over a 6-week period and then adds bonuses on top of that. For each segment she delivers, she outlines precisely what you can expect to learn and gives you action steps to take after each segment to implement in your own business.
7) They create an environment where everyone feels open to share. This can be done by laying "ground rules." In Dirty Footprint Studio's "Ignite" Teacher Training Class, we called them "Lodestones" and they were actually rules of engagement with your fellow student's. The Lodestones helped members of the group to know how to give feedback and respect where each person was on her own journey.
Don't let these qualities scare you. None of us starts out great-it's something we aspire to. Teaching is a practice which means we might trip and fall on our faces before we improve, but it's worth working toward if you want to establish yourself as a trusted teacher in your craft.
Over the next few weeks, think about who you've learned the most from. What stood out about your greatest teachers that you connected with or appreciated? How did they make you feel? How can you incorporate a little of what you loved into your own classes?
Also think about the not-so-good learning experiences you've had. What do you want to avoid? How did you feel as a student in these environments? I think it's as important to explore what not to do as it strengthens your practice. Steer clear of that which does not serve your students well.
Your teachers are all around you. They're in the blogs and books you read, the posts you follow, the people in your life. Be investigative and notice who and what speaks to you.
They are little gifts on you own teaching journey.