What Is Teaching?

Teaching is the act of helping people learn new behaviors, information, and attitudes to make their lives better. It involves a teacher who devises ways to help students to learn:  preparing and then presenting different learning materials; demonstrating a skill and encouraging practice; having discussions that can lead to understanding of abstract concepts; and using rewards to reinforce the learning.

People can function as teachers in all different aspects of life.  Teachers in schools, training institutes, and colleges/universities are well-educated and credentialled for their careers.  Other teachers may have had life experiences that they share in hopes that you’ll have a new understanding.  Trainers are teachers who show you how to do something, watch you try to do it, give advice and suggestions, and allow you time to practice until you become really good at it.  Sometimes a teacher is a good friend who helps you with your homework or helps you work through a problem with your girlfriend or some other important person.

Teaching takes many different forms.  There are some necessary traits that all teachers and trainers need to have:  teachers needs to genuinely care about whether the person learns the skill being taught.  Teachers need to have patience and the ability to inspire sometimes reluctant students.  Teachers need to be good communicators and be able to break behaviors and knowledge into small increments, knowing that most learning occurs one baby step at a time, even the really complex stuff.

Do these characteristics describe you?  Have you ever tried to teach a concept or skill?  If you have, you may understand why most teachers say that seeing a student learn and then use the knowledge and skills to enhance their lives is more rewarding than anything else they can think of. Could this career be for you?