Teachers Learn From Students: 5 Lessons My Students Taught Me This Fall

I learn as much, if not more, from my students every time I teach anything. How about you?

I learn as much, if not more, from my students every time I teach anything. Click To Tweet

Those of us who teach, lead teams or speak at events, experience this phenomena regularly. I walk in expecting to teach others, but end up feeling like I had more to learn than anyone else in the room.

This past semester I learned far more than I expected as I taught a Change and Conflict course at Trinity International University. It became so clear to me that teachers learn from students just as much as students learn from teachers. I think I should have planned my own personal learning objectives better. But due to my own lack of strategic thinking, acceptance of normal student-only learning objectives and probably more arrogance than I’d like to admit, I over-focused on the students. I neglected the fact that teachers learn from students.

teachers learn from their students

Teachers Learn From Students: 5 Lessons My Students Taught Me This Fall

1) The teacher always learns as much if not more

I cognitively knew teachers learn from students. But every class I teach reminds me of how much I learn when I teach (no matter what the context).

I always create learning objectives for my students. Learning objectives accomplish something very important. They force us to clarify what the student will takeaway. (I wrote another post about this subject, where I focused on clarifying the intended action step for an audience).

Now I decided to approach future classes a little differently. What if I created learning objectives for myself as well? If I expect my students to learn, why not intentionally learn as a teacher? Frankly, I have not done this yet due to laziness on my part and my own complacency of doing what others have taught me to do.

2) We can treat conflict as an opportunity or an annoyance

Conflict frustrates us. Conflict arouses strong emotions. Conflict often leads to ruptured relationships.

Don’t accept a negative view of conflict as the norm for your future–even if conflict has primarily delivered negative results in the past.

As I navigated various discussions and scenarios in class, I found myself learning about others, about myself, and about conflict in general. Conflict CAN lead to meaningful change, better knowledge of one another, and also opportunities to humble ourselves as we serve one another and honor our core values.

Have you learned about yourself, others, or conflict in general through a recent conflict? Try it. Anyone like me will come away realizing they have a long way to go and many areas for improvement.

3) People experience more than we know about

Exercise caution judging others too harshly. People experience many challenges that we know nothing about.

Most of us expect charitable judgements from others and struggle to show others the same level of grace. We want what we are unwilling to give.

Oftentimes I get annoyed with someone for something they said or did. I mistakenly think their mistake indicates a character issue rather than treating them with the respect they deserve. The people around you likely struggle with many things you know nothing about. They make mistakes without meaning to “drop the ball.” Their mistake often stems from how someone else has “dropped the ball,” how someone they care about recently received an unfavorable medical diagnosis, or some other outside influence that you may know nothing or very little about.

Treat those around you the way you would want to be treated during a bad day.

4) People benefit far more from interaction than lecture

In virtually every class I’ve taught or attended, I’ve learned more through class interaction than a long winded lecture. Why do we continually plan courses in this way rather than factoring in high amounts of interactive learning from one another?

Try believing that you and those you teach can learn more from one another than simply listening to another long lecture from you.

5) Assumptions lead to confusion and frustration

I make a lot of assumptions on a daily basis. I bet you do as well. Every assumption carries an opportunity for misunderstanding and unnecessary conflict.

Try pursuing clarity at all times. Ask questions in advance. Listen to others to understand their context. People have varied experiences and backgrounds. Don’t assume they all think like you do or you will get yourself into trouble.

What lessons have you learned from those you teach or lead recently? Let me know.