I don’t earn my living as a teacher, but I do teach in my “after job activities”. Not as a school teacher, but as an instructor for a martial art school, self-defense classes, and a life skill education program for my TKD kids class.
I also naturally, because of the character I am, do a lot of pedagogical activities and teaching every time I interact with kids, new inexperienced colleagues, or even dogs I play with.
What drives me is that I like to inspire my students and others to be more than they thought they could be. I like to see them grow and to build their character. I like them to learn things they didn’t know before, and let them explore their potential and get them eager for learning more.
And by doing so; I too learn, and I learn a lot.
I don’t only improve my understanding of the topics I teach; I also learn and develop professional skills that are essential in my other professional life and career, and, of course, it affects my personal character as well.
First and foremost; teaching requires discipline and good planning and time management skills. You need to carefully plan each lesson, because if you walk into a classroom and plan to improvise, you won’t get very far. You also need to be aware of how long each task will take to ensure you don’t fall behind schedule with the curriculum. Whether you teach in a school, a language institute, or in a gym like I do, there will be a certain amount of reports that need to be compiled and handed in within set deadlines. It’s clear how organizing your personal as well as the classroom schedule is one of the first things you need to master in order to be successful.
Teaching also stimulates creativity and lateral thinking. No two students are the same. Everyone learns in a different way. This means that each lesson needs to incorporate a wide range of activities to benefit all the students. Some people learn better through games, others will find it easy to learn by reading and writing. A good instructor needs to constantly source or create varied tasks to keep everyone learning.
The diversity of students’ capabilities and learning paths develops a further skill: the ability to read and understand people. Lots of courses don’t usually last a whole year, so teachers don’t have a long time to get to know their students, but they need to make sure they are delivering interesting lessons. They must be (or become very quickly) good people observers so they can adapt their lessons in order to engage and motivate each and every student. Being able to identify people’s needs and skills promptly is an invaluable talent for anyone who would like to work in customer services, sales, or in any profession where client interaction is involved.
Whether teaching a single student or a group, instructors ought to be in control. If they don’t already possess leadership and people management skills, they will need to develop them fairly rapidly if they don’t want to go crazy! Teachers are like team leaders, guiding their team (students) towards a common goal, providing them with the right tools and environment to achieve it, and ensuring everyone is involved, making the most of the individual skills.
Explaining the nooks and cranny of a language to someone else improves your own language expertise. Dealing with people with different levels of proficiency obliges you to use the appropriate range of vocabulary and expressions. The need for examples of the best use of words and idioms refines the ability to deliver messages in a clear and effective manner. Being in contact with people of different nationalities will improve your appreciation of different cultures and ways of thinking and you might even pick up a few expressions of your students’ language. This kind of exposure develops as well a person’s ability to understand others and the messages that they are trying to convey.
Let’s not forget that each lesson has to be delivered and adapted depending on the audience, a.k.a. the students. It should then go without saying that good instructors need to possess excellent presentation skills.
“To teach is to learn twice over”
- Joseph Joubert