One of the things I was glad to have experienced in my previous company was my stint as a technical instructor. It was there that I found out how fun teaching can be.
I’d admit, I like teaching for the usual reasons too. Being able to impart knowledge to other people is an inherently fulfilling experience; the interactions between your students are just icing on the cake. Teaching also allowed me to improve my craft — there were many instances where my students have asked questions that I wasn’t able to answer immediately, regardless of my experience on the topic itself.
But I guess the biggest reason I like teaching is because I want to prove my previous teachers wrong. Whether it’s about their flawed material or about their inefficient approaches to teaching, my main mission as a teacher was to strive to avoid making their mistakes.
Given the post-course feedback that I have received, I think I did pretty well for a novice trainer. I’ve avoided a lot of pitfalls but it was inevitable that I fell into some of them too.
My mistakes pointed out by my students were disheartening, but none of them affected me as much as a certain article hidden away in our intranet: Kathy Sierra’s “Ten Tips for New Trainers/Teachers“.
Just because you’ve used lots of software doesn’t mean you can write code. Just because you’ve been in lots of buildings doesn’t mean you can be an architect. And just because you’ve logged a million frequent flyer miles doesn’t mean you can fly a plane.
But if that’s all ridiculously obvious, why do some people believe that just because they’ve taken classes, they can teach? (Or just because they’ve read lots of books, they can write one?) The problem isn’t thinking that they can do it, the problem is thinking they can do it without having to learn, study, or practice.
That article showed me how wrong some of my teaching approaches were. To add insult to injury, I found that article after my final stint as a trainer. I never got to apply those tips before I resigned.
Still, if you’re expecting to be put in a training position anytime soon, those tips can be a good starting point, helping you avoid the common mistakes made by trainers.