gold stars all around

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Last week at work I had to teach a short training session on HTML. Two sessions actually, because more people signed up than expected so I broke it into 2 classes. I have to admit that I was apprehensive, though I tried not to show it. I've long thought that I'm a bad teacher, that I just don't have the temperament for it. In fact I was told this years ago by someone I had to teach who didn't think much of my teaching ability -- I thought, and still think, that he was a terrible student, but that doesn't mean he was wrong about me.

So I went into this with the belief that I was going to be bad at it. (Why, you might ask, was I giving this training in the first place? This is what happens when you miss a meeting: you get volunteered for jobs no one else wants to do. After this one I stopped asking "Am I really necessary at this meeting? Can I skip it?") And in fact, if the training had happened when it was supposed to, it probably would have been bad. Lucky for me, scheduling issues dragged on for weeks. Which gave me time to settle in at my new job, develop a little confidence in myself, and realize that just because someone told me to put all my class materials in PowerPoint didn't mean I had to actually do that.

Yes, I came this close to teaching a technical class about HTML that was entirely in PowerPoint. I shudder to think of it! Literally the evening before the first session I realized that if I had to take my own class I'd be bored stiff. I also realized that the person who told me to use PowerPoint wasn't leading the class, I was. And therefore I could change the format if I wanted. I threw out the PowerPoint and worked late writing a new presentation. This one had a very short talk at the beginning, then an actual example HTML file that I would edit on the big screen so people could see how it really works, and much more time for questions.

I think it went well. People asked really good questions, and then would say things like "Oh, I get it!" That was kind of a thrill. After the second session someone even told me that the class had been "good development" for her because she needed to learn more computer skills. Wow. I just wanted to teach people how to do this one thing (send HTML email). It never occurred to me that anyone would see it as part of their overall development. I'm glad I didn't think of it that way; that would have been way too much pressure.

So I'm not planning a career change or anything -- being able to stand in front of a room full of people and teach day after day is a skill that I'm still in awe of -- but at least I won't feel quite so nervous next time I have to lead a training session.

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This page contains a single entry by Sarah published on November 20, 2010 8:49 AM.

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