Education - Teaching
If you can't explain it to a six-year-old, you don't understand it well enough.
- Albert Einstein
This note is about the act of teaching. Teaching in a university, teaching in an elementary school, training a co-worker at work or giving a talk at a conference.
Teachers should stress about not being good enough. Teachers use peoples' time when you are on stage, so they better be worth the time. Teachers should relate to acting or stand-up comedy. Giving a lecture or having a class in any school is a performance.
Start with the
why. Always start teaching by telling people why the next thing is important. This "why" becomes motivation that drives students forward.
why -> what -> how
problem -> solution -> concepts
Break the barrier. Teachers must break the wall between the stage and the audience:
- Ask questions from the audience.
- Make audience ask questions.
- Get the audience to think and work on problems.
- Keep people awake.
Prefer telling stories. People remember stories better. It doesn't matter if it's fact or fiction as long as it's entertaining and relevant.
Keep your materials up to date. Teaching is hard work, and it's multiple times more fun when you put effort into it. Update your teaching materials and domain knowledge at least twice a year. Do your preparations at least a week before the class starts.
If you don't understand what you are explaining, don't teach it. Your knowledge of the problem domain should be a lot more vast than the facts you are presenting.
Learn to motivate people. If you, for some reason, have students that are not motivated, learn to drive them. Give them praise if they do well. Don't be too harsh if they make a mistake but tell them about it.
Show your motivation on the subject. It will also radiate to the audience. But never get offended or angry if other people are not as motivated.