[featured-image single-newwindow=”false” id=”130712-Laughter”]Image via Flickr by inottawa[/featured-image]
I love the opportunity to teach…practically anything. I have even be known to coach individuals on how to do things I can’t actually do myself! Is that where the saying, “Those who can do, those who can’t teach” comes from?! By the way, I don’t actually believe that. What I have learned over many decades of being on both sides of the process both as student and teacher is that style does matter.
This I have found becomes even more important as we move out of “mandatory” education and move into recreational, self-improvement and other elective forms of education. Some of us love to learn and will find the nugget of useful information in practically any situation, but most of us need to be in the right frame of mind before real quality learning takes place. For these folks, teaching style can make or break the learning experience.
Early in my professional teaching career I was having a conversation with a much more established teacher (let’s call her Sue), discussing class evaluations. Sue shared that one of her students had commented that although Sue had good knowledge, she wished Sue had been more entertaining. Sue was very puzzled by this comment, but having been a student of Sue’s in the past, I knew EXACTLY what the student meant. We were instructing on hobbies, so the class should have been informative, but also included some elements of fun. Including an element of humor and fun, even if we are training on important or serious topics, helps create a more receptive student.
So why is teaching style important? It sets the mood for the remainder of the class. When an instructor or trainer begins with a relaxed, comfortable approach, the class participants can relax as well. Staring with an upbeat, positive attitude sets the tone for the remainder of the class. Everyone at one point in their life has had that horrible teacher that was boring, monotone and uninterested in their subject matter, but no one ever says that was the best class/teacher.
My goal, however, is to be the best teacher every time I teach a class. I begin with confidence; not only does it help the students have confidence in me, it also helps build confidence in themselves. I present in a relaxed and conversational manner. When I am relaxed, the students relax too. And I try to add a few elements of fun and humor. I almost always tell stories on myself to remind the students that we all have struggled at some point and we can get past it.
Does my style work? Based on my evaluations I would have to say that it does. But only because it is the best style for me. What is your teaching style and what works for you?