Teachers Make the Worst Students

Screen Shot 2014-02-09 at 8.44.11 PMIn the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of attending a few classes taught by several instructors. While it is usually me in the front of the room, I relish the opportunity to learn from my peers and observe their techniques.

Over my lifetime, I have understood several lessons that have served me well in specific times: salespeople make the worst buyers, doctors make the worst patients and teachers make the worst students.

Let’s make something clear. By “worst,” I don’t mean terrible-people worst. I mean picky, high standard, challenging worst. In many ways, not really so bad at all. In other ways … yikes!

I probably fall into the YIKES group as a student. My standards are extremely high and I am very analytical about nearly everything done in the classroom. I barely tolerate poor showings while I’ll also wildly applaud an awesome one. I know what I like and I have a good idea what works.

Having prefaced what I am about to say by the previous paragraphs, I will share the five things that bugged me the most during my classroom time.

  1. Don’t read to me. If you put words in front of me, I will read them. So, unless it’s a quote from an article or book or website, don’t read to me. And especially ….. if it’s on the screen, on your slide, don’t read it to me. I can read it myself. Remember: bullets don’t kill people, presenters with bullets kill people.
  1. If people learn visually, why aren’t presentations more visual? Anchor your points with great graphics, pictures or charts that enhance the presentation, not detract from it. Just because you may not believe in PowerPoint or Keynote or other visual presentation aids, that doesn’t mean they don’t aid in the learning process if utilized responsibly. The Universal Order of Presenters (the UOP) should require that anyone presenting in front of people or other living creatures able to pay attention, read Garr Reynolds’ book, Presentation Zen.
  1. If you give me a book, outline or course notes, couldn’t we follow it– even just a little?
  1. Deliver on what you promise. If it’s a ten minute break, let’s begin after ten minutes. If we’re going to done by 4, let’s be done by 4. If you say you’re going to knock my socks off, knock away!
  1. Even if you don’t have to pee, maybe I do. I confess to being terrible at this one being the camel that I am.

So there are my five observations as a student over the past few weeks. It has been an incredible learning experience. And even if no one takes my advice, maybe by being on the other side of the room, I will be better next time I am in the front.