This time I will continue in further depth of running an online school with how to teach unusual subjects, particularly if you have little teaching experience.
How to approach teaching if you have never taught before particularly if what you teach is unusual.
Last time I touched on teaching if you have never done it before and today I will expand on that because I feel this could be really useful. Now, of course, if you are a foreign language or ESL teacher or similar, by definition part of your training was how to teach. And, also of course, I have concentrated on that aspect in this series. However, we wish to push the boundaries of those who want to teach their own skills, trades, crafts or whatever you specialize in. You may have no teacher training and possibly never trained anyone as an apprentice or suchlike.
Well now, I am going to cater to you. I have been teaching all my life in some shape or form. I have been teaching things like body repairs, driving, boxing, football and anything I was asked to. I had no training, just picked things up as I went along. I often had no confidence, particularly if I felt I was no expert. If I felt I was really good, it was easier. It wasn’t until I went to university as a mature student of 35 years old that I finally started to learn how to teach. There I was consumed by the process of teaching, how to have an impact, how to get people interested. And what turned them off.
The steps to take to make the dream a reality
I am going to assume that if you want to teach your skill online that you are good at it, some sort of a master. I doubt if you will retain students otherwise. Perhaps you have taught people, maybe on a one to one basis. That is good, if so and what you have learned from that you should apply. But even if you haven’t, these are the steps to take to make your dream a possibility. I do apologise that I am going to retrace my steps from the last blog but I will expand on them, to give you a better chance of success.
- The first step is to document every little step in the process. Sit and think, what do you do, and leave nothing out.
- Then physically go through every step as slowly as you can and write it all down.
- Then, and this will be a great boon if it is possible, if you can get a complete novice to help you, get them to watch and observe all the steps, asking questions all the time. You must enter in anything you have missed previously with this process. You must be able to anticipate any questions students will ask and have answers for them. One of the problems with being proficient at anything is that you do a lot of the things unconsciously, and you have got to bring them into your consciousness. A good questioning novice will help enormously with this.
I am going to divert at this point and talk about you for a moment. Are you a patient person? If not, teaching is going to be all that more difficult for you. You have to be patient as the best teachers are the ones who succeed with almost everybody and especially the slow learners. If students succeed with you and have failed with other teachers you will develop a great reputation. However, if you are not patient, but you have this dream of teaching this skill you know, don’t despair. Try yoga or mindfulness or any method that gets you to slow down and relax. Put an effort into developing patience and it will come as long as you believe in yourself.
And how to listen
The other area you must nurture within yourself is the ability to listen. The best teachers are those that listen to their students. Make a conscious effort to listen, put various times in your lesson plans where you say, “Ok, any questions?” or similar. The lesson plan helps you not to forget to listen.
That brings me to the lesson plan. This is a guide to each lesson. You must be methodical and put down everything in them, particularly at the start. The more you teach, the more it becomes a routine and you don’t need to refer too much to it. However, good teachers make them as comprehensive as possible and are always prepared to add to it. You need to think of timings, how much material can you reasonably expect students to learn in say a 45-minute lesson? Again, a test class will help with this. A friendly group of buddies will help you work these things out. One tip is that you must assume that it will take longer than you probably think to get people doing things right. And to a fair degree, you have to work to the slowest student’s pace.
Finally, for this blog, I will once again recommend Vedamo Virtual Classroom as your software of choice. They have expert trainers on hand to help you and they would love to help with novice teachers, particularly if you are going to try and teach something unusual. They would love the challenge of being maybe the first to teach something new online. The software is so versatile it can tackle pretty much anything, particularly any form of hands on instruction.