If I know something, does it mean I can teach it?The difference between knowing and teaching

Reflecting on my journey as an educator, I recognize the mistakes I’ve made while teaching diverse subjects in various learning environments over the years.

During my university years, I acquired knowledge encompassing content, principles, frameworks, and paradigms, which I initially thought I could easily impart through verbal explanation, supplemented by images and slides. However, it was during my time at teacher training college that I realized the necessity of integrating learning theories (pedagogy) into my teaching approach.

Armed with both subject expertise and pedagogy, I embarked on my first teaching role. It soon became evident that despite using advanced teaching methods, the learning wasn’t effectively received. Simply conveying the “what” (content) and “how” (pedagogy) was insufficient to impact learning. I also had to consider the “who” by designing learner-centered sessions that took into account learner demographics, preferences, and motivations. This led me to focus on learner profiling, culminating in a Masters’ dissertation and later becoming the subject of my PhD research.

Over time, I’ve learned additional valuable lessons. Beyond understanding the “who” needs to learn “what” and “how,” I’ve come to appreciate the significance of engagement and rapport in a learning setting. Regardless of my subject expertise or teaching abilities, learners are fundamentally individuals who prioritize how their educators make them feel. This realization prompted me to delve into neuroscience to better grasp the intricacies of facilitation, connection, empathy, and collaboration in both in-person and technology-enabled learning environments.

As a reluctant leader, I’ve also come to accept that as a facilitator, I am essentially the leader of a group, entrusted by learners to establish and maintain a safe and positive learning space. Creating a psychologically safe environment is crucial for learners to feel comfortable asking questions, exploring new ideas, making mistakes, and genuinely engaging. True growth often stems from moments of vulnerability, leading to authentic transformation. For this reason, trainers require more than just subject matter expertise.

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