How you teach is how you do everything – part 4: Bears? Fireplace in the way? No heat? No problem!

‘How you teach is how you do everything’ is the title of a recent blog post written by Jen Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen.  Teaching is an art and a science, a calling and a passion.  When done with integrity and attention to access and inclusion issues, magic can and does happen.

Kind of like when I read Jen & Michele’s post.  I decided to do a series based on each of their 8 points.   You can read the first three posts here:

Point #4

Some over-prepare: they obsess over their teaching and exhaust themselves even before they start.

Others make room for their anxiety, knowing it can’t be quelled by over-preparation. These teachers. prepare for their students, not for their fears.


My take on exhausting yourself before you’ve begun

I’ve been teaching for about 30 years.  I can’t image doing anything else.  I’ve worked with more than 10,000 workshop participants in and from more than 80 countries.

Jen Louden asked me a question recently that got me a thinking – what would you whisper in the ear of your earlier, teacher self? Without hesitating, I knew the answer.  I would whisper relax but….

I’d whisper relax because my preparing led me to some anxious moments.  I’d spend so much time preparing that if things went off-plan, well, my anxiety would race ahead of me faster than an Olympic sprinter.  I used preparation as a means of control, as a means of quelling my nerves.


I’d add but because those years of careful preparation were golden for being able to:

  • put together a thorough learning road map for innovative, sticky, engaging learning
  • not have to worry whether I had all my supplies, because not only did I have my supplies I had back up ones
  • think through the what if’s and what about’s so the odd time something really went sideways I was prepared

All in all I’d say relax but maintain vigilance.  Stay on your toes and stay alert.   So….

  • when your training room doesn’t have any heat in the middle of winter or
  • your client forgets to bring your handouts or
  • your assigned training space is so small folks are literally sitting on top of each other or
  • you realize halfway into your training that half of your group has been angrily waiting for you to appear in another room than the one you’ve started your workshop in because the workshop was mistakenly advertised in two different rooms or
  • your workshop has the most gi-normous fireplace you’ve ever seen, one so big that you can’t see all your participants from one place in the room and you spend the two days of training bouncing from one side of the room to the other (because moving rooms isn’t an option), that and vying for attention with the bear that keeps crossing the patio outside your training room ….

You handle it all with a sense of humour, you rise to the challenge and turn it into the most glorious of teachable moments.

To find out more about the TeachNow series with Jen Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen (including an interview with yours truly) click here.


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