Have you ever been in a class that was so impactful that you came away so excited that you wanted to tell all of your friends about it? Have you had a teacher with the extraodinary talent to keep you totally immersed in the subject, where everything just seems to click? Have you had a teacher take the extra time to find out your needs and to personally help you with a project or assignment?
I have had a few teachers like this in my life. You walk away from their class excited and with a renewed sense of direction. You want to do the assignments and learn more. All of a sudden learning has gone from laborious and boring to exciting and rewarding. It takes a special person to do this. It’s not just facts and figures, but stories and personal experiences. It’s a learning experience that matches your unique learning style.
In thinking back to some of the teachers that have had the greatest impact in my life, I can think of three important things that they did that made a difference. Practices that may not be recognizable at first but have a subtle impact to your learning experience.
- Their teaching matches your learning style. There are three primary learning styles, Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic/Tactile. Visual learners learn through seeing, Auditory Learners learn by listening, and Kinesthetic Learners learn through moving, doing and touching. If a teachers presentation matches your particular learning style you’ll come away with more retained knowledge. Really great teachers know this and may include all three styles in their presentation.
- Individual attention. Everyone learns a little differently and we all have different goals and aspirations. Through individual attention, teachers can custom tailor their presentations to our individual needs. This is especially helpful for kinesthetic learners that may need a more hands on approach. A great approach is to say it, then show it, and then have the student do it himself. This can take more time than just telling us the facts and figures, but the results are incredibly powerful.
- Passion for Teaching. Great teachers have a passion for their profession. They have a vision for each student and really care about the outcome. Instead of just sharing a lot of data, excellent teachers are results oriented. They take the time to work with each individual student and learn about their aspirations. Some of my best teachers were more interested in where I was going than I was. Their aspirations for my life and career helped change the direction of my life.
I did some career retraining in the mid 90’s and as a fill in to my computer network training I took some free classes at the San Diego Career Center. I had a teacher named Karen Owen who had an incredible gift of teaching. She taught classes in Word, Access, Excel and Photoshop. Every one of her classes was an amazing adventure. She taught by telling us what we were going to do, then showing us the exercise, and then having us do the project hands on. She also got to know each one of her students and really had a vision for each one of us. Her goals were big and audacious. She wanted us to all have incredible careers… she wanted us all to be extraordinary.
I can truly say that the knowledge I learned in her classes changed my life. This knowledge is a help everyday on my job. I am constantly in Word, Access, and Excel. She instilled in me a passion for Photoshop and the graphic arts. She made learning fun. This is what true teaching is all about. She truly created hundreds of student evangelists, excited about technology, and with a vision for the future.
As American author William Arthur Ward says… The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
Thank you Karen for the inspiration to do truly great things!