It’s often said that those who can’t do, teach, but I’ve found that the best teachers are those who both teach and do.
In fact, having dabbled in the delivery of workshops and short courses has given me not only huge respect for those who teach full time, it’s also taught me that teaching can be as beneficial to the teacher – as industry professional – as it is to the students.
Teaching your craft to others not only allows you to pass down knowledge and experience you’ve gained in your sector, it also creates an invaluable two-way learning process whereby both teacher and students collaborate in the exploration of new ideas and approaches. Teaching, in fact, is as much about learning as it is about teaching others what they need to know.
Need more good reasons teaching can enhance your career? Here are 6:
- Networking: Teaching, especially at the post-secondary, post-graduate and continuing studies levels, allows you to develop relationship with the future entrants to your industry. I’ve had contract work referred to me by former students, and workshop participants who have hired me to consult for their companies.
- Professional development: In order to teach others effectively, you really need to know your stuff. And that means you have to be current and up to date in the latest innovations, case studies and approaches taken in your industry. If you teach regularly, it means you have to upgrade your own knowledge continuously, and this will make you a greater asset in your field.
- New ideas: Those who have yet to be jaded by years of work in an established system always have new ways of looking at old problems. Foster those minds and harvest the ideas – they might lead to improvements in your own work.
- Theory testing: Bounce your own ideas off your students and use them to generate discussion, test your theories, and explore new possibilities. Maybe your industry – like mine – is facing a crisis (death of newspapers anyone?). And maybe someone in your class has a solution.
- Communication skills: Imparting information in such a way as to ensure it is absorbed – and useful – to others is obviously a critical skill for teachers. It also requires a very different way of communicating than you might do with colleagues. Learning and applying this skill will enhance your communication abilities, enabling you to communicate more clearly and effectively in a variety of contexts.
- Confidence in your craft. Nothing gives you the confidence in your own skills and knowledge than seeing a student learn and apply information that is new to them. They’ll think of you as an expert, and you’ll believe them. And maybe this will lead to the confidence to ask for a raise at work. Or to start your own consulting business. Especially if your students start sending you leads.
Teachers consistently report a high level of satisfaction in their work, and that’s because it’s highly meaningful – both to their students, and to enhancing their own careers as industry professionals.