I recently posted something like this on my Instagram account and wanted to expand on it…
I have been an educator since 2003 (1999 if you want to be realty specific and count my time in Italy in my MBA program when I gave talks on how to interview and also hosted the study group sessions on campus; but I digress).
For me, teaching has been a great way to learn. End of story. I learn when I teach and I always learn more than the students, in my opinion. I get to format my content to the students – I can make economics and graphs seem exciting if I bring in the real world along with the theory. I learned that right away teaching a micro/macro class my first time teaching in 2003. I will never forget the first test I gave in those classes. I ran with my students’ scantrons to the trusty machine in Spellman Hall and the deans were there who taught me and knew me since 1994 and I was so excited. And then the machine started spitting out the graded exams – 19, 20, 15, 40… not one grade was a passing grade. I was shocked and so so upset.
My deans laughed and said all new teachers make the same mistake – we write the test WE can pass without taking into account that our students are not that interested in supply and demand curves and need the information presented with an exam that matches their capabilities. I wound up giving a massive curve and then reformatting my exams to match, as best as possible, the students’ capacities in the course. I then found myself with the more normal bell curve distribution (hands up to all who hated hearing about the “bell curve” when getting tests back in College) but man it is true as a professor you need to see those scores on a spectrum because not everyone gets an “A”.
That being said, I am always a fair grader and if everyone deserves an “A”, I give them all “A”’s. I do not force the bell curve if it does not naturally apply.
Other things I have learned (am still learning) are:
✅ young learners can see the joy in any learning situation; not so young learners can pretend to be disinterested and "too cool" but you can relate to them if you try
✅teaching on the college level as well as K-12 means you realize these grown people were not so long ago 5 and in school for the first time and you can tailor your lessons to any age and even your clients which means you are an educator
✅all students (any age) will try to use flattery - tell them nicely thank you but also firmly that flattery does not work with grades or behavior issues
What do you think about my learning from teaching? Have you ever taught? What do you think about it? Tomorrow's post is about how I apply these lessons learned while teaching to my entrepreneurial and corporate life. You can see yourself how I teach if you look into the seminars I am hosting at Wagner College on how to take your next step (see link below) . Happy Hunting!
Lisa Vento Nielsen