In this article, Andrew Carruthers, Education Director for Sam Villa shares his list of “little things” on how to be a great teacher and educator to those around you.
“In the words of my mentor Sam Villa, “it’s all about the details” when it comes to education and facilitation. There are definitely macro skill sets and concepts when it comes to putting together a great class, setting up the classroom, etc…but what really makes one class stand out over another is truly the countless “little things” that add up to the experience. Many of these are never seen. They are just felt.
The biggest little thing, (kinda like jumbo shrimp) is that great education comes from great learners. The more often we put ourselves in the seat of the learner, the closer we stay to the needs of the learner. The content and the context of the learning environment tends to become stale if we are always in front of the audience and never in it. As educators in the beauty industry, the classes don’t even need to be about hair to refill our empty buckets. I recently attended a 4-day coaching certification on a concept called mBraining. The content honestly changed the way I will coach in the future, AND I came away completely rejuvenated from wearing my learner hat for 4 days straight. Although I didn’t learn anything hair related, there is no doubt that the class I will be teaching this week at Summit Salon Academy in Tampa, FL will be interacting with a more inspired facilitator.
The heart of the educator is also a key little thing. I’ve heard this quote from many different people over the years and I really believe it’s true:
People don’t care what you know until they know you care.
Unfortunately, there is definitely a level of narcissism in the world of education. Some people stand in front of an audience because they truly want to shape minds, while others stand in front of an audience so they can try to impress people with all the cool stuff they know. I know that sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true. We have all been to classes that stand in contrast of one another and if you really look back at the memorable ones, it will be about how you felt in that class more so than what you learned.
My life coach and good friend, Lyn Christian, told me many years ago that the new trait that is most desirable in modern leadership is adaptability… the ability to shift and change quickly with the evolving world. This is my last little thing. After creating a lesson plan, PowerPoint, tool list, show flow, spec sheet, preflight checklist, and all the other countless preparation elements that go into a great class, it is very easy to get locked into a plan. The challenge is, regardless of how flawlessly you researched and planned, you still never know exactly who your audience is or what curveballs you may be thrown until you start working with them. The ability to shift and adapt to the audience is essential to their learning. It may be that they learn at a different pace, they are a different gradient or skillset than expected, or they may just not give a flying (insert your favorite expletive) about what your teaching! A killer class is always focused on the learner and if we are unaware of their cues that the class is bombing (or even worse, aware but unwilling to do anything about it), the class is about us and our ego.
As I read back through this short list of little things, I realize I screwed up the assignment. None of these are actually little at all. The reason they made my list is simply because they are the unseen and, many times, the untaught. The physical and theoretical elements of a classroom could all be in place, but if we as educators are not 100% dedicated to the learner being our highest priority, we have missed the opportunity to shape lives versus simply teaching a skill.”