How You Teach is How You Do Everything

by Michele Lisenbury Christensen and me

As you read through the following list, you may see yourself more than once.  We sure do. This list of ways we can approach teaching is both diagnostic and prescriptive – it will lead you to sparkling fresh insights and some new wiggle room in teaching. 

Each point proposes a shift in awareness or the development of skill so you can teach and be nourished doing it.

Read this list on another level, too: it’s not just about your approach to – or assumptions about – teaching.  It’s also about your approach to life.

If you play with these shifts in the arena of teaching, you will – if you are open and invite the change- find that transformation spills over into other areas of your life.  We call that a two-fer miracle – hot diggity dog.

How You Teach is How You Do Everything

1. Some teachers assume that their students are needy and that needy people will suck them dry.

Others know that we’re all needy, and develop both the compassion and the boundaries to serve without being drained.

2.  Some teachers feel needy and approach teaching as beggars:  “Like me? Love me? Pay me?  Listen to me? … Even just a little? Please?”

Others develop an embodied dignified sense of their right to teach, to serve, to be heard and to exchange value.  And their students benefit.

3.  Some are arrogant: their experience, intelligence, or knowledge separates them from their students.

 Significance anybody?

Others let their experience, intelligence, and knowledge fuel their curiosity, connection, and humility and teach from those qualities.

4.  Some over-prepare: they obsess over their teaching and exhaust themselves even before they start.

Others make room for their anxiety, knowing it can’t be quelled by over-preparation. These teachers. prepare for their students, not for their fears.

5.  Some under-prepare and wing it every time, and shame themselves afterwards with “I should’ve done better.”

Others use their spontaneity skillfully, building on a base of solid planning to serve in a way that makes them proud (enough of the time).

6.  Some are afraid of the “difficult” students: they don’t quite know how to work with certain people.

Others prize the students who challenge them most as their greatest teachers, and breathe into the scratchy places where needs might not get met.

7.  Some think they need to learn more and more and more to have the right to teach.

Others remain students throughout their lives, but are moved by inspiration rather than inadequacy.

8. Some don’t teach even though they’ve heard the call, for one or more of the above reasons.  They haven’t found their way to the teacher’s seat.

Others seek the support, inspiration, and tools to create satisfying teaching experiences even while they’re still imperfectly perfect.

We created TeachNow because we grapple with many of these challenges and because we see so many other teachers (and those who feel called to teach) doing the same. We’ve created a program to address both the soul of teaching and the nut-and-bolts.

Our course doesn’t teach you how to teach or how to make a killing with your content. Instead, it gives you a place where others recognize, as you do, that teaching is a practice of personal and/or spiritual growth, and that teaching sustainably requires looking yourself in the eye, over and over again. With love, humor, safety, and lots of practical tools, we’ll guide you to craft a way of being within your teaching that is authentic and nourishing.  Join us Thursday March 24th for the first class. It’s on us. As in free. Only people who take the first class – live or by recording – will be able to register for the rest  of the course. We’re committed to your learning, not just buying.

 

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below

Judi Piggott - March 16, 2011

#typo: Second headline instance of “How You Teach…” is missing its second ‘How’. Proof positive of the engaging nature of imperfection! Great post, and pure truth.

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    jenniferlouden - March 16, 2011

    thanks shall go fix!!

    Reply
Anonymous - March 17, 2011

Love this list. I would add – some teachers feel that everything “should” be constricted and exactly the way they think. Others find their classroom a place to “play” and allow flexibility and fun to come in the door.

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    jenniferlouden - March 18, 2011

    such a good reminder for me Kat, thank you!

    Reply
    jenniferlouden - March 26, 2011

    Kat I read your comment from Wish Summit – thank you for witnessing me getting stronger in this project!

    Reply
Melani Ward - March 21, 2011

ooooh #7 gets me. I will never know enough to teach others:) The other thing I thought of adding is that some teachers forget that some of the best lessons occur when you stray from the plan.

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    jenniferlouden - March 26, 2011

    yes yes yes!!!

    Reply
Jennifer Manlowe - March 21, 2011

OMG, Jenn, I love this truism: “Some under-prepare and ‘wing it’ every time, and shame themselves afterwards with ‘I should’ve done better.'”

As one of those university professors who was encouraged to “Publish or Perish,” my focus was always on getting my scholarship OUT THERE to keep my job (i.e., get tenure!). On the drive to work, I’d lament not focusing more on preparing to teach “world religions and gender issues”—something for which one will NEVER be or feel totally prepared. What I came to find was that “winging it” always had a boomerang effect. I’d drive to work grieving, drive home mercilessly beating myself up only to repeat the cycle the following day…. I’m pretty sure this Samsaric cycle drops one straight down into one of the many Buddhist hell realms.

P.S. Karma (or the trends in all institutions and big businesses) caught up with me. I was “let go” even though I had 22 publications and two NYU Press published books. They hired a temp to teach my classes (.05 my pay per hour). Tragic and unsustainable.

I’ve come to find that being in my own biz as a book publishing coach (memoir mentor) is a much more satisfying lifestyle!

Thanks so much for your dedication to those of us who want to come from a different mode as teachers, coaches, facilitators, etc.

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Jennifer Manlowe - March 21, 2011

OMG, Jenn, I love this truism: “Some under-prepare and ‘wing it’ every time, and shame themselves afterwards with ‘I should’ve done better.'”

As one of those university professors who was encouraged to “Publish or Perish,” my focus was always on getting my scholarship OUT THERE to keep my job (i.e., get tenure!). On the drive to work, I’d lament not focusing more on preparing to teach “world religions and gender issues”—something for which one will NEVER be or feel totally prepared. What I came to find was that “winging it” always had a boomerang effect. I’d drive to work grieving, drive home mercilessly beating myself up only to repeat the cycle the following day…. I’m pretty sure this Samsaric cycle drops one straight down into one of the many Buddhist hell realms.

P.S. Karma (or the trends in all institutions and big businesses) caught up with me. I was “let go” even though I had 22 publications and two NYU Press published books. They hired a temp to teach my classes (.05 my pay per hour). Tragic and unsustainable.

I’ve come to find that being in my own biz as a book publishing coach (memoir mentor) is a much more satisfying lifestyle!

Thanks so much for your dedication to those of us who want to come from a different mode as teachers, coaches, facilitators, etc.

Reply
    jenniferlouden - March 26, 2011

    good because you are good at it. hope you find Teach Now helpful, even if just the free call!

    Reply
Jenniferleadulin - March 24, 2011

i have a commitment during the actual airing…… how do access the recorded version….. ? directions are probably right in front of me…… but, um… i cannot see them. 🙂

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    jenniferlouden - March 24, 2011

    yes! we will send out a link to the recording a few hours after the call!

    Reply
How you teach is how you do everything – part 1: How not to suck on fumes | Rock.Paper.Scissors.Blog - March 28, 2011

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Jeff Delp - April 2, 2011

Exceptional, reflective post that provides outstanding advice for all teachers. I particularly like this sentiment, “Others make room for their anxiety, knowing it can’t be quelled by over-preparation. These teachers. prepare for their students, not for their fears.” Great post.

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    jenniferlouden - April 2, 2011

    Thanks Jeff. Nice to have you here!

    Reply
How you teach is how you do everything – part 4: Bears? Fireplace in the way? No heat? No problem! | Rock.Paper.Scissors.Blog - April 4, 2011

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How you teach is how you do everything – part 6: five ways to deal with ‘difficult’ students | Rock.Paper.Scissors.Blog - April 8, 2011

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How you teach is how you do everything – part 7: an end to learning | Rock.Paper.Scissors.Blog - April 11, 2011

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How you teach is how you do everything – part 8: heeding the call to teach | Rock.Paper.Scissors.Blog - April 13, 2011

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Jlmanlowe - June 3, 2011

Thanks so much for these smart ways “in” to teaching with compassionate awareness. I cannot tell you how many years I approached this profession wearing fiercely-perfectionistic goggles. I started each semester convinced that I had already failed—a kind of pre-emptive strikeout. I compared myself to my peers, felt like a fraud, assumed everyone else was an A student and “if they only knew….” etc. 
I love the reframing you’ve offered those of us with the “calling” to be life-long students, mentors and educators. No matter what I do—coach other writers to become authors, mentor people to get into graduate school, or guide midlife people toward clarity with various intuitive methods—there’s always an element to the craft that ignites my inner teacher.

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Mbd52 - July 24, 2011

Gosh I wish I had not missed this. I go through each one of of the above each semester at the community college where I teach. I think it comes from being a conscientious  teacher although I always have to work on my boundaries.

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