A speaker remarked that a good consultant uses your watch to tell what time it is vs. bringing in their own. I think the same is true of a good teacher — who teaches you the principles of how to tell time on your clock — or any clock — rather than providing the answer without the tool to use it in the future. The real key is helping the learner understand the dynamics of their own particular situation and equipping them with the knowledge to take action based on that insight.

As a consultant, teacher and supervisor, I can tell you that it would be a lot easier to do the equivalent of bringing in my own clock — providing the answers, spending a class period espousing trusted theories, or giving mandates — but learning wouldn’t take place. Instead, I use case studies in most of my classes, recommend journaling for most of my coaching clients, and provided 1:1 coaching for my staff to effectively connect concepts with the actual application and help others internalize their meaning.

I’m reminded of a quote from master teacher Parker Palmer that “education is the intersection of the big picture and the little story.” It’s making sense of those abstract concepts by relating them to someone’s personal experience.

In whatever role you play that involves helping someone learn, teach them how to use their watch know all there is to know about telling time.

Thanks, Mike!

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