Sunday, March 15, 2015

What makes a great educator? Pt.2

In my last article, I started sharing stories with you about my best teachers, and why my experience with them was so amazing. My intention is to help you recognize what you need in an educator, so you can choose education that really supports your goals and propels you towards them.
To recap, here’s what I expressed I need from my educators so far:
-Patience/meeting me where I’m at.
-Break it down for me, one time
-Don’t let me get away with shit
And to continue…

Never give me the answer
I cannot express how imperative it is for an educator/mentor to withhold the answers to some questions. There is a teaching philosophy – The Art of Mentoring – that talks about answering questions with another question, forcing student to rely on themselves for answers. If you think about it, it’s brilliant. The student needs to trust their own intuition; What would you do if there was no master or teacher to ask? When I was learning to become a coach I worked with many seasoned trainers. The very first trainer I worked was Micky McQuaid. She reminded me of a catholic school nun who happened to be a die hard sports fan and could give a shit less if she offended you. She was intimidating to say the least. She had the job of transforming people’s lives through the trainings we facilitated, and as far as she was concerned, it not was not about us (the assisting coaches). She would give you an instruction one time, and she would make it very clear. If you dared to ask her for clarification, especially for something you could probably figure out on your own, she would scowl her face at you and ask back snidely “what did I say?” or “what do you think?” or “how do you think you would handle it?”. It was nerve racking, but we soon learned to internalize the question and figure it out for ourselves. Over time, if I didn’t take her demeanor personally, I became used to trusting myself more and more, having confidence in my coaching and my job. Micky wasn't actually being a bitch, (I freaking LOVE her) she just cared enough to know we were capable of finding answers on our own. Though she drove me crazy and scared the shit out of me, I was ultimately so grateful she did.
Acknowledge the gifts no matter how great or small

One of the side effects of being someone who tried really hard in school, but often came up short in results, is that you long for someone to tell you something you did right. The more seeming failure, the more feelings of dejection, the less confidence you have, and the less you trust yourself. I had another trainer once tell me that when she was being coached she would request that no matter how bad she was fucking up, just tell her one thing she was doing right and everything would be fine. I realized that was something I needed. So I started requesting that of all my mentors and coaches…I even requested that of my husband Charlie. Charlie is very analytical, methodical, and is very grounded where I am a passionate, creative, visionary and impulsive. Often times complex linear thinking type stuff eludes me, or take me longer to process than other things. Like doing the books, or creating systems in my business, or putting together electronics. Charlie will push me to try to do these things rather than always doing it for me. It often starts out as an epic fail. But bless my husband, he will always acknowledge even the tiniest thing. Sometimes all he’s got to go with is the fact I tried. Yeah it gets that bad. But his acknowledgement makes me feel more inclined to try again, and I do not feel as stupid for essentially making a disaster out of it. It makes a huge difference…and I always carry that into my style of teaching.
Respect as equals.

Finally, one of the things I cherish as a student and educator and make sure it surrounds me at all times is respect. There is nothing more off putting and just energetically twisted than an educator who acts as though they are superior to the student in anyway. As human beings, no matter how much experience we have, or do not have, we are important valuable contributions to our lives, and our potential is endless. To think those who have more education and knowledge (or money, or fame, or “attractiveness”) are at a level above others, is doing a disservice not only to the student, but to themselves. It’s small. The educator who thinks they have capped all that they can learn about their trade is quite honestly the dunce compared to their own student. The world constantly changes, and nothing stays the same. Thirteen years ago online marketing and social media was a commodity, not something essential. 3-D printing is now the new way to sculpt, digital photography has a whole new set of advantages, and new advantages in health and wellness has us be able to live longer. To not respect our students is chopping off our own legs at the knee. Of course respecting your mentors and those who come before you is also essential to the richest education, but it doesn't mean you give up your own self worth to do so. When I first started participating in a Native American Community for my spiritual guidance, there were so many traditions to learn and so many teachings to absorb. The elders of my community though steadfast in upholding tradition and respecting the teachings, always made me feel welcome, and respected my learning journey. As the world changes, the elders look to the youth to bring in new ideas and are always open to integrate the old with the new… And these traditions go back more than a century.
Overall the way I see it you always are at choice. You can choose to learn from people because they are popular, they have many followers, or you want to be able to say you were taught by them. You can choose to learn from someone because they make it easier for you, or because it seems they are successful. But if you check in with yourself authentically, will these attributes get you the furthest… Not just in your career, but who you are as a person. Will this person and experience develop you, challenge you, and push you to where you were meant to be. How will you know who they are? Do you research, ask questions, find referrals, listen to their style and voice…both online and in person. We didn't get the chance to choose who taught us as children, but we do now. So make educated choices, and informed decisions. Be a demand for great education, not just good.

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