| Written by Ronnie |
Today, I thought it might be interesting to share a number of lessons that I've learnt about teaching. If you are an educator yourself, free free to add your own in the comments below.
1) Assume zero knowledge.
I remember when we held our first signature workshop, I assumed people knew what I meant when I said "right-click." As it turns out, not everyone uses the right-click on their mouse, and we had to set that up for a few people for the very first time. From that point on, I realised I needed to make zero assumptions about where people were at, and I also learnt the importance of putting people at ease so that they feel comfortable asking whatever questions they need to ask.
2) Adrenalin always kicks in.
To be honest, I don't think of myself as a natural public speaker. In fact, it's something that I would not do if I had a choice. However, I've learnt that even if I'm nervous at the start of a workshop, adrenalin will always kick in and help me to get going (and going and going).
3) Live and breathe your teaching content.
When it comes to hosting workshops, it's easy to get bogged down in the logistical details of planning an event. However, it's important to remember that people are ultimately coming along to learn. Thus, it goes without saying that nothing is more important than knowing your teaching material. Which means that preparation is absolutely crucial. Speaking for myself, I can never relax until I've read through all my notes at least a couple of times before each workshop. Doing this helps me to feel confident that I do in fact know my material, and it also helps me to improvise more easily (should I need to) on the day.
4) Answering questions is a delicate art.
With online classes, answering questions is a straightforward matter because there is no time restraint involved. I can take as long as I need to address the issue and write up my answer. However, when it comes to in-person workshops, it gets a little trickier. Whilst we want to try and answer everybody's questions as best as we can, Trish and I also have a syllabus and a schedule that we need to adhere to in order to finish the workshop on time without leaving out any major teaching points. Having a dedicated Q&A session is one way to get around this, but mostly, we try to encourage our students to ask the more 'off-the-topic' questions during morning tea and lunchtimes.
5) Varying the pace is good.
At our signature workshops, we get through a lot of content. Like, a huge amount of content. Even though we do forewar' our students from the outset that they'll probably leave the workshop feeling completely overwhelmed, we've learnt that varying the pace of our teaching throughout the day can significantly help people to process all the information. This is why we now structure the workshop so that the day is broken up into talks, demonstrations, live shoots, practical sessions, album viewings, and chats and discussions over lunch and tea times.
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Do you have any tips or lessons to share when it comes to teaching others?