Teach what you know
Can you learn something new about anything all the time? Whether it is a skill or a job or about yourself, how do you keep evolving? By teaching what you know.
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You don’t have to be an expert to share what you know. You don’t have to fear that your knowledge will diminish or you won’t have same amount of skills or quality of skill level because you are helping others get to a skill level where you are. It definitely is not an easy job so I hardly think any regular teacher is in it for the ‘easy’ money. For them, teaching is a passion. In this case, I am not just talking about teachers in formal sense as we know; that is in schools, colleges or any other formalized spaces for learning. I am talking about people who don’t recognize themselves as teachers but actually are when they are willing to share what they know. Teaching someone makes you very finicky about your own knowledge. The need for breaking down anything to a point that is enough for a novice to grasp a concept in its entirety to the tiniest details makes you a better doer in your own profession. In fact, I think it might be the best way to get to the ‘expert’ status that some people revere because people start recognizing you as that. In due course, you might even become one because you have to know something to a point that you can break down fast and easy.
I am a proponent of teaching. My first teaching experience was when I was 15. I was a lead dancer for a dance company based in Chicago. My teacher asked me to take over a class for a brief moment and It was a beginner class of Indian Classical dance for young ones. It definitely felt like an easy class to start teaching with. However, I did not felt as confident as I thought I would. Some of the basic technique that I could perform in my sleep became too complicated to break down. I realized though that the kids were already looking to me as if I was a ‘master’ teacher. I felt very powerful and scared simultaneously. I felt comfortable in my skin at moments I expected to feel shaky and very nervous when I should have felt at ease the most. It was such an interesting experience being a leader that way. That Saturday was an eye opener for me.
I was much prepared as a teacher next time. I learned how to lead generously, how to listen mindfully, how to explain similar concepts different ways, how to help students succeed without baby sitting them, to be extra prepared but be willing to change directions based on student’s need and that learning experience needs to have an element of fun so that it can last longer. In addition, my own practice whether I was teaching dance or writing or media classes became much more stronger.
Still, I don’t consider myself as a teacher but more of a facilitator. I like to share what I know. Sometimes that happens in formal spaces and sometime it is through a space like this blog. I recognize myself as a Choreographer foremost. I like working with diversely trained dancers and artists. In that case, I have to break down Indian Classical dance to fuse with Modern and other forms to articulate the larger narrative/idea I am going for. It is meticulous, exhausting, messy and sometimes ‘why why I am doing this to myself’ kind of work. However, I have never once got a feedback from any of my dancers that they are confused as to what I want from them. That they cannot understand even if I don’t show them physically what I am going for. We may not share the same kind of training, background, culture or art form but we work closely towards a singular vision without feeling overwhelmed or lost. That is all thanks to my teaching opportunities that consistently shape me as a better artist, leader and person. There is no quicker way to face your strengths and weaknesses than being in position of teaching someone.
-you don’t have to be an expert.
-you don’t have to even be recognized as teacher
-you can in fact be considered as an expert over the period of time through teaching
-your skills don’t go away because you share your knowledge
-your importance does not go away because someone else gains more knowledge
-you will improve at your skill or yourself and even have a moment of ‘genius’ because you are spending so much time on your craft, skill, job
-you can make an impact and influence others
-you can make passive income creating products that share your skill and knowledge
Make sharing your knowledge as part of your lifestyle, a habit. You can start at any time and at any age with any level of expertise. It always gains you something back. Even when you teach for free. Even when you share your knowledge for free. My young cousin who just finished his 10th grade and is very good at Math volunteered this week at a non-profit school in India where he taught Math. He helped them with the lack of their man power and in turn he will get good references to apply for college if he needs them. In addition, he felt that he contributed to the society in a positive manner. Win-win. I am not promoting free teaching but you can always provide some of your knowledge for free for other reasons. Regardless, financial or personal rewards will be by products.
You don’t need a classroom and a degree to teach what you know. Share your knowledge, it will always reward you back.