What To Do When Your Students Leave You… For Another Teacher

If you’ve been teaching for any length of time, you will experience students leaving you to study with someone else – and maybe not coming back.

It’s never been easier to skip from one teacher/offer/course to another – the internet has created a very porous world. And it’s completely normal, common, and mostly good news that students migrate between teachers – more learning (hopefully) happens for the students and it’s another opportunity to distinguish yourself as the best in your niche.

That said, there are helpful ways to handle these migrations and even benefit. Read on! (Kudos to my two student/friends Deb and Judy who helped me write this over lunch at the Boulder Teahouse – thank you so much!)

IT REALLY DOES HAPPEN TO EVERYBODY

When you discover a student has “left” you for another instructor, let go of taking it personally. It’s such a waste of energy! Instead, remember that no one is a good fit for everyone and, if you are doing a good job as a teacher, at some point your students should grow beyond what you know and plus, people like to learn all kinds of things in different ways from different voices – it doesn’t mean you failed.

Also, check it out: do you even teach what they signed up to learn from this other teacher? (Reality check your story.)

Finally, you have no idea why they choose ________ instead of you and you won’t – unless you ask.

BY THE BY: SHOULD YOU ASK (AKA INTERVIEW) THE STUDENT WHO GOT AWAY?

Ask your “just right” student why they are working with ________ now ONLY if you can do it without being defensive, grasp-y and you have questions to ask that connect to how you conduct your marketing, your student care, your content, or your delivery.

Do your interview in person or on the phone. You need to hear nuances to ask good follow-up questions and thus actually learn something you can use to fine-tune your business practices or teaching delivery.

Back to the main article!

MY FIELD IS TOO CROWDED ALREADY

Too many teachers never teach because they feel their field is too crowded. But why not reverse that: if your students can go to other teachers, their students can come to you!  Or: there are eager students to be taught!

I’ve been teaching for so long, I have seen competition go from almost nothing to super crowded for just about everything I teach. Yet I earned more money last year than ever before (even in my best-selling book / spokesperson contracts/ big speaking gig days) so I say a crowded field is great news. There is a demand for what you offer. A crowded field also provides a great impetus to distinguish yourself as the best in your niche.

My writing retreats fill up in mere hours not because there aren’t enough writing retreats in the world (ha) but because

a) people love writing retreats

b) I try to offer a fantastic experience and

c) I keep growing my teaching so I can offer new insights every year.

Celebrate the crowded field!

THEY KEEP BRINGING UP SO AND SO’S NAME AND I’M SICK OF IT!

Let’s say you feel another teacher is overshadowing you, that every time you teach someone brings up her name, and everything you do is being compared to her. She or he is a demigod! You want to stand on your own material and teaching style, plus you don’t agree with everything she preaches. What to do?

  • Check out your thoughts – is it really true she is overshadowing you? How would you prove that to me? As in what are the facts?
  • You really don’t want to bring even a whiff of “Not her name again!” into your teaching so try sending her gratitude for what she has given to your field.
  • If someone does ask, “But demigod says you should mix paint this way,” reframe by bringing the group back to your expertise perhaps by saying, “Based on my research…” or “Based on my experience…” Claim your authority gently but firmly.
  • No badmouthing ever anywhere. Except maybe with your besties and a bottle of wine/hot pot of tea.
  • Consider inviting this demigod to collaborate with you. Perhaps he or she hasn’t ventured online yet and you could “introduce” them to this world while aligning yourself with their reputation? Or you have entree to a particular conference or festival and can invite the demigod to present with you? In other words, share their coattails.

WHEN SOMEONE STARTS TEACHING YOUR STUFF

Suddenly, something you have taught is all over the internet with another teacher’s name attached to it. It’s easy (at least for me) to jump to the false conclusion that I shouldn’t write or teach about _______ anymore or to be angry at said teacher for “stealing” my material. Stop and consider:

The ideas you are teaching are most likely not entirely yours but ideas you have developed and synthesized by standing on the shoulders of your lineage (remember that exercise in TeachNow? This is a great and natural thing! Haven’t taken TeachNow? We open the doors in March!). So this teacher has developed their take on these same founding ideas – cool!

All you need to do when you teach/reference these ideas is reference your history as in, “When I first started sharing this in 2002…” Also be sure to credit your original sources and highlight what you have added and developed.

  • CAVEAT: IF THESE ARE YOUR ORIGINAL IDEAS, call the other teacher and politely but firmly insist they stop claiming your work without attribution. Do not email; call. I’ve seen legal battles commence because of emails sent too soon or in anger. Pick up the phone.

Finally, consider if you might benefit from collaborating with this teacher? Is there an opportunity here to learn, increase your reach, develop new material that serves your students?

I USED TO RECOMMEND ________ BUT I CAN’T ANYMORE

The most shameful moments of my teaching life are tied to the people I recommended or invited to present with me without either doing due diligence or responding quickly enough when I saw I no longer trusted them. It’s the worst feeling to realize someone you supported doesn’t deliver what he or she promises, isn’t competent, or is perhaps is even a danger to their students. (Of course, it’s also incredibly great to recommend a teacher who is a life changing fit and I’ve had way, way more of those experiences, thankfully.) And there’s also just the “whoops, don’t like how he teaches” or “She gives way too much material” or “That programs costs too much for what it delivers” that can alter your opinion.

But yikes, you’ve already recommended their work – what to do now?

  • Forgive yourself. We’ve all been here. Especially in the early days of the internet, before we learned that people can create an on-line persona that is nothing but a hall of fancy mirrors.
  • Take off endorsements or recommendations on your website or CV from this teacher, and request he or she do the same of yours.
  • Debrief what happened with someone you trust. What can you look for or do differently next time? Ask your trusted friends to help you keep an eye out.
  • If someone you don’t know well asks why you don’t work with so-and-so anymore, and you are worried about this other teacher’s abilities or impact, be polite but frank. “I have serious concerns about her ethics” or “The structure in which she teaches is more directive than I’m comfortable with” or “Working with him is like drinking from a firehose; if you can handle huge, and I mean huge, amounts of fast-moving material, it’s great, but it was too much for me.”
  • If it’s milder than that, you can say, “Our work was growing in different directions.”
  • Next time you want to work with someone or recommend their work, go slow. Take her course or watch a few videos. Ask around about him. Jump on Skype and interview her for twenty minutes. If it’s a go, start small and  be honest in what you know about his or her offers. Listen to yourself if you are feeling uncomfortable, then cut your losses if need be.

When someone asks your advice about studying with another teacher

  • Say hi to any thoughts that sound like, “I must have screwed up or she wouldn’t be wanting something else.” Give yourself a hug. Then, put your student first and learn more about what your student wants. You can’t make a good recommendation or offer to serve that student yourself without knowing more. “What appeals to you about ________?” or “What are you wanting to learn?” or “What has been feeling like it is missing for you?”
  • Help your student to figure out if this teacher is a good match.
  • If you know something negative about said teacher or something that might make him or her not a great fit for this student, share it but with diplomacy and care. Do not share gossip!

Okay, that’s a darn long newsletter so let’s end with this little summary:

There are plenty of students for you. Don’t quit because the field is crowded.
Some students are a great fit for you, some aren’t, and some will be in the future, some have been and now need to move on.
Take responsibility for being your best some of the time and good enough the rest of the time.
Be sure you are making clear offers to your just right students.
Forgive yourself if you make a mistake recommending someone, learn from it, and move on.

Now my friends, go TeachNow!

Love,

Jen

P.S. Talking about other teachers, in our next round of TeachNow we will have four guest teachers on hand for four live Q&A sessions. Who would you like to learn from? Come over here and tell me.

Allowing Silence to Unfold: Case Study #4

TN_2015_i_am_not_600
Today’s case study is from ruzuku co-founder Abe Crystal. True confession time: when Abe showed up in TeachNow three years ago, I was a little terrified. He has a Ph.D in human-computer interaction, and I had no idea what that even was! How could I teach Abe anything?

Read on to find out what happened and then let’s discuss!

TEACHNOW CASE STUDY #4: ABE CRYSTAL, ruzuku co-founder

It’s funny in retrospect, but I remember feeling really nervous when I hopped onto my first TeachNow call, 3 years ago.

I felt a little “behind” because I hadn’t attended the first preview call or even browsed through any of the initial course materials.

I really wanted to contribute but I felt like a bit of an outsider … I was a guy, and it seemed like all of the other participants were women. And the topics I was interested in teaching — user experience design, and online courses — seemed far from the typical topics that Jen was helping people teach.

But eventually there came a pause in the call, and Jen waited patiently for questions, allowing the silence to unfold.

For some reason I thought there was going to be a giant queue of questions and I’d be lucky to get my 2 minutes of fame.

Instead I had to clear my throat, unmute my phone, and jump in.

I don’t think I even asked a question, actually. I think I just said something about how you could use ideas from design in your teaching process.

What I remember instead is the energy I received from Jen in return.

Such enthusiasm and warmth… Like my off-the-cuff comment was the most incredible insight she had heard all week!

That’s how I want people to feel when they take my course — like their contribution really matters.

This was one of many small moments in the course that, when added together, shifted my approach to teaching.

Bear in mind, I was coming from a very formal, academic background (Ph.D. in information science).

“Teaching” to me meant: syllabus, exams, grades.

Now suddenly it could mean: experience, inspiration, and emotion.

Here’s what’s surprising, though. Even more than TeachNow changed how I think about teaching, the program changed how I think about marketing.

You might as well call it “MarketingNow!”

Jen showed me how to think about marketing as a type of teaching.

And to save some of your teaching passion for activities that excite people about your courses and programs.

It even changed how we market our software platform… from a very dry, factual focus on features and technology, to speaking in a much more personal and emotional way about the impact the platform can have for teachers.

I began to get comfortable expressing myself in my teaching, which became part of my marketing.

And this year, I’m spending the bulk of my “marketing” time actually creating courses and teaching — which then excites people and gets them to spread the word about our product.

As I do, I try to remember that sense of feeling appreciated and valued in a course, and to offer that to my participants — as Jen did to me.

Abe Crystal
Co-founder of ruzuku.com

***

Thanks, Abe – so happy we both overcame our fear!

Isn’t it so moving how tender and vulnerable we are as teachers & students? When I can remember that is normal, and trust that who I am will be enough – and if it isn’t, that’s okay too – I can be of use to someone as wickedly smart as Abe.

When I trust who I am as a teacher is fundamentally enough – while being open to growth everyday – I am freed to market my offers with more joy and persistence.

Now over to you: What is one of your teaching gifts that you may be overlooking or judging as not that useful? Mine is sharing my mistakes freely and without shame. I overlooked that for about 20 years and labored to be somebody more polished and intelligent.

Name a teaching gift of yours, maybe one you labor to “get over.” Now brainstorm, maybe by making a mind map, how this gift could help you market. Some examples of mine:

  • Offer a Spreecast class so people can see my energy
  • Recording 56 master teacher interviews in which I ask all the juicy questions I’m curious + invite 5 guest mentors to join me live & highlight that not as a “I don’t know enough” but I know enough & know how to ask for help
  • Share my own teaching experience as honestly as I can & include actionable takeaways

What can you do to share what you teach by claiming your gift? We’ll have plenty of time in two of our guest mentor live calls with marketing mavens Andrea Lee and Jenn Lee to build this out, so bring your mind maps and ideas!

Love,

Jen

P.S. Did you know that as part of TeachNow, you get a 3-month free trial of the ruzuku platform that Abe co-created + a hefty discount if you decide to use it? Details are right here.

P.P.S. In case you missed the complimentary kick-off class last week, you can watch the replay here. (The link expires on March 31st so be sure to watch before then.)

Making the Leap From In-Person to Online Teaching: Case Study #2

TN_2015_none_of_us_600
Today’s case study highlights finding the confidence to teach very body-based work online and insights into marketing as a teacher from one of our happy alums.

TEACHNOW CASE STUDY #2: Erin Geesaman Rabke, Embodied Life Teacher

I’ve been a teacher of one kind or another for 20 years​ so​ I had​ real​ hesitation about joining TeachNow – did I really need this? I’m so glad I took the jump! So many blessings came through the course…

One was I’ve been wanting to teach online but I’ve been a bit terrified about not being in the room with my students because my work is so body-based.​ I was nervous about not being able to respond to people’s energy on the spot, wondering whether they’d understand me when I wasn’t in the room with them.

I got so much great information, encouragement, and specific suggestions from TeachNow to make the leap, and I did it!​ ​I​n addition to my regular teaching schedule, I​ ran two successful ​online ​courses last year and can’t wait to offer more.

My first online course, The Embody Gratitude Project​, I offered right after TeachNow ended​. I would’ve been thrilled if I’d had 20 people registered and I ended up with close to 100 students! ​The same thing happened with my second online course, The Embody Ease e-course. Close to 100 people from many countries joined me. I got great feedback from my first e-course​s​, and besides my thrill,  I was able to make thousands of dollars more money too!

What Jen calls “living in the gap” probably got me off the fence the most. Teaching NOW rather than “waiting until I’m perfect” (a moment, which of course never arrives.) ​I loved what Parker Palmer shared in his interview about the fact that if we really care about teaching, we’ll often feel as if we’re not living up to our standards. It’s inevitable because we care so much. Now, that’s not a problem that stops me anymore, but I can hold the whole delightfully challenging process of teaching with great compassion and a different, humbling understanding…

Hearing Jen and the many other teachers share their own struggles (as well as skills) really gave me such a sense of “we’re in this together.” I got the importance as a teacher to LOVE my students. So much more is possible when people feel seen and loved – we can’t help but blossom. Intimidating tech-details aside, I can totally “Love them!” and I do. And they feel it.

Another part of TeachNow that worked for me was understanding marketing ​not as “selling” but as an opportunity to educate my peeps. When I shared my authentic enthusiasm for how embodied gratitude practice rocks, it worked! People signed up.

Finally, I found the quality of the community Jen gathered to be simply stunning. There was so little of what I’ve found in so many other courses and online forums I’ve participated in… here people weren’t selling themselves, the guest teachers weren’t holding back their best info until we sign up for their program. People shared with such a sense of generosity and respect. ​​I loved being in the community learning environment and learned a lot from classmate’s posts and Jen’s too – she’s very active and giving. As you probably already know, Jen’s presence is such a transmission in itself.  She gives me great courage to show up wholeheartedly in the love of what I’m sharing, the love of my students, and in my own unique ​and quirky ​way. I can’t say enough good about the course and will be highly recommending it to the many teachers (and wanna-be teachers) I know.

Erin Geesaman Rabke
Embodied Life Teacher
Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
www.bodyhappy.com

***

Erin, way to go! Offering not one but two on-line courses, and so quickly! WEEE!

Now over to you: what’s one way you can authentically share your enthusiasm for what you teach with potential students – today!? Get creative and then share what you do on my Facebook page. Let’s get to know each other.

This is such a juicy conversation, thanks for being in it with me!

Love,

Jen

P.S. See you next week for our complimentary kick-off class. To sign up or share this free!ee class with others, just go here.

The Future of Teaching + Ethical Marketing with en*theos creator Brian Johnson

Oh this is a good one, teachers!

This is one in our series of four case studies discussing the new face of teaching.

Brian Johnson is the author of A Philosopher’s Notes and founder of en*theos Academy, which is transforming the way virtual learning is done. Their purpose is to inspire and empower people to optimize their lives. Woo-wee, that’s a cool purpose.

You may be a member of the en*theos community, tuning in for this interview with Brian. If so, you already know Brian as not only a smarty-pants, but someone who is living his values. He’s inspiring just to hang around.

If this interview is your introduction to him, I am thrilled to have you meet Brian through our conversation. Honestly, I was high for hours after talking to Brian about teaching and marketing.

Brian is a gifted teacher of life optimization in his own right, but with en*theos Academy he is creating a platform for many other teachers to do what they do best – teach – with full support from the infrastructure of the Academy.

Brian shared so many innovative and inspiring perspectives on the future of teaching and what’s possible for teachers and learners of all sorts. Meaningful change, deep community, true success, and sustainable growth were all on the docket.

A few highlights of our talk:

  • Why hustling doesn’t have to be part of your teaching future
  • How trying to stay with what’s new and hot may not serve your students
  •  What role self-trust plays in marketing.

You’ll also learn some surprising – and relieving – perspectives on:

  • UNKNOWN TEACHERS:  Why Brian believes that changing the world depends on both big-name teachers and newer teachers with smaller followings
  • VIDEO VS. AUDIO:  Why audio may be even more powerful than video for your audience
  • CHANGING TOGETHER:  The power of community to support meaningful, lasting change
  • FACE-TIME:  How online connection can support in-person connection between learning communities
  • TRIUMPH OF THE MARKETING AVERSE: Why NOT being all about marketing can actually drive better business over the long term
  • SUSTAINABLE GENEROSITY:  Great ways to make your teaching available to those who need it most without being “non-profit” yourself
  • MAGNETIC MODELING:  The ultimate sales tool: your own happiness

Right-click this link to download the audio of this amazing 25-minute interview:

Check out all the courses at en*theos Academy!

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about the future of teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment in early 2014.

Please sign up below to be notified when enrollment re-opens.

You will also receive twice-monthly, super-concise, actionable TeachNow e-tips – AND The Quick and Fab Guide to Course Creation and Better Participation (PDF).

[javascript src=”http://forms.aweber.com/form/71/1105166371.js”]

Listen to the other interviews in this series:

 

Teachers: Don’t Hide Your Light Under a Bushel Basket

This interview was originally published on Shaboom by Molly Gordon.

++++

Here’s a special Q&A with Jen Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen, creators of Teach Now. Together, they are working to empower teachers to be more visible, more confident, and more successful on every level. At the end of the interview, you’ll find a link to more Teach Now resources. Enjoy!

Q: What does teaching have to do with under-earning or vice-versa?

Jen: Teaching has far too much to do with under-earning, at least until we change that story! Traditional teachers in classrooms are frequently underpaid. That reality carries over into our story about other kinds of teaching, which fosters the idea that teaching cannot pay well.

Disprove that story for yourself now. Look for examples of teachers making a good living. Michele and I are; so is Molly. Who else? If you haven’t earned what you need or want in the past, that it is not a result of the act of teaching but of other factors like what course or product you offered, how many people knew about it, and if you connected with your student’s needs.

Michele: Teaching – as one stream of activities and revenue within a business – can help you overcome under-earning in a product or service-oriented business. It becomes a way to take clients and would-be clients through a number of learning curves, like:
•Understanding the need for your product/services.
•Learning how to use your service or product.
•Accelerating the pace of their growth through group learning vs. one-on-one work.

Being a great teacher, in addition to having great products or 1:1 services, helps you and your clients leverage your time so you can provide value at a greater scale, at a lower per-participant price.
Being great at making offers of teaching and at leading programs will truly help your business thrive.

Q: Is it possible to be a dedicated teacher and intentionally cultivate wealth?

Jen: Yes, and doing so requires personal honesty and integrity. As a teacher, you have a sacred bond with your students, and that bond begins with “do no harm” and grows from there to cultivating love.

Becoming wealthy can also be a sacred act that is done for the good of many, including, of course, yourself and your loved ones. Where it gets rewarding – and takes a lot of consciousness and support – is holding both: your desire to be of service to your students and your desire to cultivate wealth. It’s a very sophisticated spiritual path. You have to hold both ends of the continuum in your awareness and keep choosing moment by moment.

Michele: The key to melding these two pursuits – profound service and significant wealth – is to keep the exchange equal. When your work consistently delivers meaningful value that exceeds the investment your students make, AND is lucrative for you, you are building on the solid foundation of the Law of Reciprocity (giving AND receiving).

Charging more in fees than your clients get in value will lead to either a lack of integrity, a lack of wealth, or both. Under-charging grossly – not allowing people to pay you what’s fair to YOU – will lead to a lack of wealth and a different kind of lack of integrity: self-denial. Yuck.
To be a dedicated teacher AND cultivate wealth, offer great value, charge fairly for it… then make sure you’re getting the word out in ways that ensure your programs are filled.

Q: How does teaching (serving) jibe with earning and savoring?

Jen: To serve (in all ways, including teaching), you must be resourced – you must have resources to draw on, beyond yourself, to keep you emotionally, physically and spiritually full and in touch with your truth. You can serve from an empty place but it usually hurts not only you – in exhaustion, burn out, resentment – but also whomever you are trying to help. It leads to power over and separation, rather than ““As I do unto others, so I do unto myself.” When we are earning what we need, and we are fully savoring this wild journey of being alive, we have so much better a chance of serving in a way that actually serves.

It’s not the model most of us grew up on. That was often a model of self-sacrifice to the point of illness or poverty. That model is very toxic. Let’s get rid of it now!

Michele: The notion that it’s noble to serve without thought for earning, and to savor only giving, versus savoring what you receive, is a notion that leads to moral superiority and condescension toward your students. You’re good and giving. They’re grasping and greedy.

What if, instead, you create relationships that are reciprocal, and model sustainable ways of living and serving? Why not craft relationships with your students that contain the giving and receiving, as well as candor, self-awareness, and responsibility? That’s what we want in all our relationships.

Q: What do teachers need to remember in order to earn an ample living?

Jen and Michele:

Ask yourself:
• What do I want to learn? (Successful teaching starts with your curiosity!)
• What am I passionate about sharing with the world? (Be honest.)
• What do I want to change in my world? (What makes you rant?)
• What do I see people struggling with? (Gather their words exactly and mull over them.)
• What solutions would I love to offer? (It doesn’t matter if you don’t fully know how yet.)
• How much is enough (to meet my needs, to provide for enough of my wants, to save for my future, and to give back in whatever ways feel best to me)?

Teaching is hot. The world is changing faster and getting more complex every week. People feel overwhelmed and stressed by all this change: what you know can change that and people will pay for that relief.

We’d love to help you claim your seat as a teacher or find the juice and joy in teaching again. We know it’s possible because we’ve done it again and again, for ourselves and hundreds of students.

The world needs what you know. Please, teach now.

Jennifer Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen have taught since their 20s: everything from yoga to writing to leadership skills. They’ve created a transformational program called Teach Now that delivers information, insight and Master Teacher interviews with Molly Gordon, Natalie Goldberg, Mark Nepo, and many more.

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment in early 2014.

Please sign up below to be notified when enrollment re-opens.

You will also receive twice-monthly, super-concise, actionable TeachNow e-tips – AND The Quick and Fab Guide to Course Creation and Better Participation (PDF).

[javascript src=”http://forms.aweber.com/form/71/1105166371.js”]

 

Want to Be a Better Marketer? Start by Becoming a Better Teacher

This guest post was originally published on CopyBlogger.com by Jen Louden.

++++

Some of the world’s most masterful marketers are, first and foremost, master teachers.

You’re a teacher when you write a blog post that helps solve a tricky problem your audience is facing.

You’re a teacher when you lead a webinar.

You’re a teacher when you overcome objections on a landing page. When you troubleshoot with a client on the phone. When you craft a product, make a video, give a speech.

Understanding yourself as a teacher, no matter what your business, makes your business more profitable and more fulfilling.

As an entrepreneur, you know the importance of finding a need and filling it, of knowing your market, of writing compelling copy.

Yet it’s tempting to overlook an equally important part of the recipe: how you actually teach.

  • How you develop your content and deliver it.
  • How you connect with your students.
  • How you adapt to different learning styles.
  • How you take care of yourself so you can teach without burning out.

All these are as vital as what you teach and how you get the message out.

But because many of us don’t see ourselves as teachers, we skip learning how to teach. And then we wonder why our businesses falter or our energy drains away.

Some people are natural teachers … I’m not one of them

The Woman’s Comfort Book became a bestseller when I was 29 years old.

I was instantly thrust into a teaching role. I did workshops and keynotes because I was invited to and I wanted to sell books. I had zero idea what I was doing. I flailed about. I would waste days over-preparing, then collapse when my teaching didn’t go the way I’d imagined.

And if the students didn’t rave? I was crushed. I felt so ashamed and alone in my failures.

Then I started to befriend other “famous” teachers at places like Omega and conferences, and joy! I learned the secret of “successful” teachers: most of them felt the same way.

Many teachers fear they suck, most of the time

We were all making it up as we went along. Sometimes that worked. A lot of the time: not so much.

I started researching: What makes an effective teacher? How do I get better? What do I do about those students who never talk? Or the ones who never shut up? Why am I so exhausted after teaching? How do I know if I did a good job?

Over my years studying teaching and learning, I’ve discovered several keys to sustainable, fulfilling teaching:

  • 1. Don’t try to be the expert — Be the creator of safety and context
  • Trying to be the world’s foremost expert (especially when I was the youngest one in the room) tripped me up again and again.

    Yes, you have to know your topic, but that doesn’t mean you have every answer. Truly, you can’t. Let “I don’t know” become your favorite words.

    Besides, what you know is far less important than your real job, which is fostering:

    • Safety: Helping your students feel safe enough to take in what you offer and to ask questions — they’re as afraid of not knowing as you are!
    • Context: Showing students how this learning can benefit their lives. It’s just like writing good copy — you have to sell them on why they should care.
  • 2. Nobody anoints you but you.
  • Would-be teachers often hold back and wait for someone to dump holy water on them and say, “Yes, you’re ready to teach now. You know it all!”

    At the same time, seasoned teachers can burn out when they get tired of beating themselves up for not being “legitimate” enough or knowing enough (see #1.)

    Sidestep all that mess: give yourself permission to teach. Ground yourself in what you do know, keep learning, stay humble — but stop waiting!

  • 3. Know thyself
  • It’s so tempting to think teaching is all about establishing a niche or finding that “perfect” market, and has nothing to do with who you are.

    I’d so love that to be true! But knowing yourself, warts and shining talents, and being willing to be honest with yourself will do more to increase your effectiveness than anything else you do.

    For example, I really want everyone to like me and think I’m smart. When I can face that, and not pretend it’s silly or beneath me, I am more present, supple, and able to focus on my students instead of my own neediness. It’s hard inner work, at times, but skip it and you — and your students — suffer.

  • 4. The best teachers teach as part of their own learning.
  • Of the dozens of master teachers I’ve interviewed — they teach everything from writing to meditation to 3rd grade — most make mention of this.

    It’s not only about staying on top of your topic — “sharpening the saw” by perpetually improving your skills.

    Nope. It’s way deeper than that. Their teaching is always in service to their own learning.

    They remain lifelong students. Especially in the front of the room. Teaching well is a powerful opportunity to learn. Learning is a life-long, perpetual, constant cycle for them. What they learn feeds their teaching, and vice-versa.

  • 5. Self-care really does matter.
  • As someone who has written volumes (literally!) about self-care, I find it highly adorable that this has been the hardest thing for me to learn.

    I thought teaching meant serving myself up and giving everything to everybody. When I found myself schlepping baggage at one of my own retreats, I started to rethink that.

    What do you need to feel your best when you teach? If that’s a cup of tea and Twitter turned off while you write, great. If it’s a day alone before and after an event, and (gasp!) a massage, make it so.

Teaching is a high calling to be of service (yes you can make money while being of service, but that’s another blog post) and teaching is a transmission of your energy and heart to another.

If you are called to teach, in whatever capacity, you owe it to yourself to give thought and attention to how you can best do that. You don’t have to flail and fail, I promise! Instead, learn how to teach. And then teach so you can learn.

What exactly is the TeachNow program?

We will be talking a lot more about teaching in our next session of TeachNow, which will open for enrollment on March 19th.

Want to see what it’s all about? Join me for a free sampler class on March 19th at 5pm PT/8pm ET. You’ll learn 7 immediately useful teaching tips + get two free guides, including A Quick and Fab Guide to Content Creation – no more content creation overwhelm!

Sign up for the call right here.