Do you remember your favourite schoolteacher? Whether you loved or hated your schooldays – I’m sure there’s one or two teachers that you’ll never forget. I sure remember a few. Some of them because they taught me what fear and injustice look like. I’m sure you had a few of those experiences too. But I’m asking you to think back of your absolute favourite. What was he or she like? What did she say or do? But most importantly: how did she make you feel?
I sure remember a few memorable quotes from teachers. But to be honest – it’s not their words I remember so much. Or the content of their classes. I remember how I felt in their classes.
How they made me feel.
For me, the teachers I loved most were the ones who really saw me. Who made an effort to remember my name. Who never shamed me. Who didn’t automatically turn to the extraverted students because they were the easiest to talk to. Who encouraged me. Who joked with me – even though I was quiet. Who made me feel appreciated – not even necessarily with words, but just by how they were present. Who would also greet me outside their classroom. Who showed me that they were human too – with flaws, blunders, doubts. Who had the courage to admit a mistake or an omission. Who kept their promises, or explained when they couldn’t.
Oh yes, they knew their subject too. In fact, they loved it. They tried to make it interesting for us, not necessarily going out of their way to deliver extraordinary lectures or bombarding us with audiovisual interactive force.
But their love could be felt.
First and foremost, with themselves. With what they loved. And with me.
Who were your favourite teachers? If you like, write down what characteristics come to mind. Maybe some of the ones I mention, maybe for you it was different. Whatever you write down, here’s three things you can learn from them.
1. Stop worrying so much about your certificates, your experience, or how you compare to your peers. It is your presence, the way you connect, that matters most. It is how you make people feel, that they’ll remember. Connect inward, to your heart and soul, and connect with those you work with from there. Care about them. You’re doing a great job.
2. Do what you love and love what you do. And love yourself more – flaws and all. You are human – hurray for that. Show your students, your patients, your clients. They’ll love you more for it.
3. What great assets and characteristics did your write down for your favourite teachers? You possess all of those – you can’t discern what is not inside you already. So embrace those wonderful qualities and use them with your people whenever you can. You got this!
Do you want my 10 best lessons from 25 years of teaching, training and coaching? Get my free Cheat Sheet for Coaches (and anyone working with people) here.