What Good Teachers Have That Bad Teachers Don’t

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

There was a lecturer in my university days who taught us in our third year. To say that he sucked at what he does is an understatement. He was friendly to some students but we all know he sucked at teaching a lot. And he was pretty arrogant and gave himself the illusion that he was good but we (the students) were unserious.

The amazing part of this was that he was one of the best students that every graduated from the department. We heard rumors that he had very high distinction scores in some of the courses which he now teaches. However, he really struggles to impact the knowledge. Or maybe he just doesn’t have it anymore.

He would read texts from the course textbook to us word for word. And then asks if we understood what he was saying. It was frustrating for someone like me because my style of understanding is to get it at first mention. Since he would ruin the first mention for me and attendance was mandatory, I didn’t do very well in the course. And I still dislike all the courses he taught that I wasn’t retaught by another lecturer.

Here is the moral of the story:

Just because you achieved something doesn’t mean you can teach others to achieve it

There are people I call victims of success. They were successful by accidentally being in the right place at the right time with the right skills. If you put them in a different situation, they would get results very far from what they have.

The annoying part is when such people are in a position to teach. You cannot teach luck. And as a result, they lay down these principles that they weren’t conscious of when achieving what they did. Why don’t you just share your experience? Just your experience, no icing.

The right experience + a teacher = A lesson

Teaching is a skill. Teaching is a gift. Not everybody can teach. A wiseman once said:

If you say you teach, if the people didn’t learn anything, you didn’t teach anything

What you teach is measured by what people learn. Not what they are entertained by. Not what they laugh about. Not what gets them emotional. But what they can now do as a result of the knowledge you have shared.

Teaching is more than just telling people how to do something. Teaching is more than just showing people how to do something.

Teaching is being able to come down to the level of the student and build a bridge from where they are to where you want them to be.

The ability to build this bridge is what good teachers have that bad teachers don’t. To make the maximum impact;

  1. Find out the current level of knowledge of the student (don’t assume)
  2. Define your expectation to the student
  3. Teach (with feedbacks every step of the way)

Coaching is different from teaching. Coaching is more about helping a specific person overcome the mental limitations they have set for themselves. A coach doesn’t need to come down to the level of the student. A coach stands outside the circle of the student to challenge and demand the best. A teacher goes inside the circle.

It is more important for the student to understand the teacher to receive the lesson taught. This is why exceptional students can learn from horrible teachers. In the example I cited earlier, there were students who had A’s in the course of the terrible lecturer. But even those students agreed he was very poor at teaching.

Before you resort to teaching, ask yourself if you have the skill to make people learn. Always remember:

If the people didn’t learn anything, you didn’t teach anything

I rest my case

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