Friday, January 8, 2016

Teaching is More about Selling & Less about Telling

I loathe car shopping as I can't stand to haggle over prices. The game over numbers, trades, discounts and other code words for money out of my pocket literally drives me insane. (Pun intended), but there is a time that I do like buying a car.  I enjoy buying a car when I happen to find a salesperson who connects with me on a personal level and understands me as a client. There's no game, no hassle, and no insanity. The deal is done or it's not done.

So let's apply that to Learning

Did you ever have the same feeling as a student in class?  Did you dread walking into that teacher's door because you knew you weren't going to learn anything meaningful?  Did you feel your excitement slowly fade into apathy the minute they started talking at you?  Did you resent being forced to learn a subject that felt more like punishment than actual learning?

Then at other times did you have a teacher that you just couldn't wait to see?  The minutes flew by, and you left class excited about the next day's lesson. Do you remember that this teacher wasn't even 'teaching' because what you were doing was so much fun. If you're like me, you can still see the lessons you were doing and feeling the fun all over again.  

The very best teachers sell what they're teaching. They believe in their product, and they convince kids to buy-in to learning with their charisma and confidence. Lessons and activities are devised with a focus on the learner first and the content second.  These exemplars of instructional excellence connect with kids as people first and as learners second because they know that getting kids to engage in learning is the exact same as getting them to buy a car. For some kids it's easy to make the sale, but for others it takes a little more relational work of showing them the benefits before they will purchase the learning.

The next time you walk in your class, think of your students as potential customers and your content as the product.  If you approach your instruction with the mindset of selling instead of telling, there's a strong likelihood that your kids will dread leaving your class because they will want more of what you're teaching.  Sell it; don't tell it.

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