Start Teaching Today!

Jan 26, 2016

Have you ever thought about teaching others the things you know? You might be an experienced professional or just starting in your trade, it doesn't matter - I bet there's always somebody willing to learn from you.

I had the opportunity to teach a class of final-year BSc students when I was doing my Master's, and I can honestly say that it was one of the most difficult, but also most rewarding things I've ever done in my professional life. Let me tell you a few things I learned from it, in hopes that I might convince you to try and start teaching too.

1. Teaching is friggin' hard.

Well, no surprise there, right? Nevertheless, when I accepted this job, I didn't expect it to be so much work. I had a very open curriculum, so I was able to teach things I really deemed worth knowing myself. However, that also meant that I had no prepared material, but had to create everything myself. Once you've created several hundred slides of material and still find that you need more content, you might know what I mean.

Not only is it a lot of work, but it's also difficult to execute. Explaining things in a way that they can be understood is hard. Making yourself heard is hard. Speaking in front of a group can be terrifying at first. I left my first few lessons feeling completely and utterly drained.

Why do I still think you should do it? There are two reasons. One: you will grow with the job. Making the decision to teach means you're testing uncharted waters, and that's one of the best things in life. Two: afterwards, you will have gained a lot of respect for people whose profession is teaching. Teachers and professors are some of the most important people in our society, and we should be aware of that.

2. To teach, you have to understand.

Only when you're asked tricky questions in front of a live audience who expects you to know what you're saying will you know if you've got your stuff in order. If you don't know what you're talking about, it's impossible to be respected by the group. Solid professional expertise is the foundation of the teaching experience and lays the groundwork for a good relationship with your students.

This means that you will have to prepare, you will have to study your own material, and you will, sometimes, still have to answer I don't know. Nevertheless, being a teacher also means you really know your subject. This will benefit you a lot in your main job. Don't be afraid to teach material you don't know yet - see it as a learning opportunity.

3. There's a lot more to learn.

It gets even more demanding once we leave the technical stuff behind us. Being a role model, interacting with people, convincing and discussing with students, making yourself heard, taking the lead in a group, staying concentrated, getting respected - all these things and much more can you learn by standing in front of a class and starting to talk.

So, in all seriousness - when are you going to stop being a listener and start becoming a teacher? You don't have to quit your job for it either. Ask at your local schools and universities - they often have open positions and will be grateful if you offer your services as a guest lecturer (just don't expect that gratefulness to be expressed with a lavish compensation).

You could also teach a class about your favorite hobby at your hometown, or even make educational videos. No matter what you do - start teaching today!