When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher. I settled on that career choice because I was inspired by my mother and sister, who are both teachers. And I decided that making loads of money would never mean much to me (it still doesn’t). By the time I started college, however, I found new passions and decided to leave the teaching mentality behind.
Of course, I’ve learned pretty quickly that teaching is a skill almost everyone utilizes in their profession, so in a way, I ended up becoming a teacher anyway. This is because almost all of us must, at some point, pass on our knowledge to others we work with, such as interns, new employees or colleagues.
The trouble is that we’re not all great teachers (at least at first), so I’ve listed some habits that we should strive for in becoming an effective instructor for our given skills.
Throughout my education, I clinged to the teachers that habitually wore their passion on their sleeves. These were the individuals who made it painfully clear that their subject was something they cared about deeply, and helping their students grasp the same passion was their true endgame.
This habit makes teachers exceptional because, for one thing, people in general are far less boring when they talk about something they have a genuine interest in. When I’m trying to teach someone about writing or public relations, I am much more deliberate and effective than I would be if I was trying to teach someone about arithmetic.
This one is pretty obvious. One-way communication (one person talking while the subject only listens) bores us to tears and leads to less knowledge being imparted. The most memorable teachers I ever came across were the ones who promoted engagement and interaction, asking the students questions and ensuring they were keeping up.
This applies to any method of instruction. I’ve developed a keen eye for when someone begins to zone out while I’m explaining a more complicated concept, and if I ask questions, it sparks their attention and wakes them up. As a result, I’m making sure they’re learning and no one is wasting their time.
2. Eye contact
When someone looks you in the eyes, distraction becomes nearly impossible. This is essential for both the speaker and the listener, due to how this keen nonverbal establishes respect for both parties. It may be awkward at first (especially if you’re not used to it), but eye contact is a fantastic habit in all forms of communication, especially teaching.
In general, your nonverbal communication needs to be constantly attended to, especially if you’re engaged in public speaking. Great teachers keep attention by using hand gestures, fluctuating their voices and addressing the audience, not one or two students.
Notice that I didn’t use the word “test” here (I didn’t want you to shiver). Though we associate tests and exams with nightmares and headaches, their value can’t be undersold. I’ve had many teachers who crafted incredibly efficient tests, making sure that they measured our application over our memorization.
The same applies to other forms of guidance. When I want to make sure someone I’m teaching has learned something, I give them an assignment. That is their “test,” and the results are graded based on how much information they’ve really absorbed about the given subject.
This list is done, but I want to confer one more trait that I’ve seen in the best teachers, which do include my mother and others. They were memorable. If you can present yourself as a passionate, engaging instructor who really taught you something and kept your attention, then chances are that you are memorable, effective teacher. Also, lighthearted humor doesn’t hurt either.