Becoming a teacher

This week a couple of friends of mine asked me to teach them how the web works, and the basics of what they'd need to know to commission their own websites. So I found myself in the strange position of being their teacher for the evening. I think I did okay, so here's what I did, and what I learnt:

1. I asked them what they wanted to learn. (Easy to miss this one.) They basically had enough questions to build a clear map of the lesson, and it meant I could use examples from their lives to illustrate my points.

2. I started explaining the concepts behind things, and also how they work in practice, and asked them which they found most helpful. They both liked to know the conceptual stuff, so that helped me know how to teach them.

3. I drew pictures as I went along, and wrote down the key new words to make them feel less worried about forgetting things. (One preferred the pictures to listening to me and started drawing them with me, and then took them home afterwards.)

4. When they asked questions, I either answered them or wrote them down, so they knew I'd be covering it later.

5. I kept checking in with them about how they were feeling, and recapping what I'd said. And I regularly asked them to explain things back to me so they could put them in their own words.

I rather enjoyed it actually, it made me feel clever and useful.

I reckon teaching a handful of people something you know well is quite fun, as long as you're prepared to keep explaining it in different ways. But teaching a larger group, or a topic you don't know well, might make it harder to keep things so personal. I'm doing a presentation on knowledge management to 40 people next Monday, so I'll hopefully do a comparative post on that too.


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