Thursday, June 14, 2012

Teacher and Student

In the twenty plus years in retail management, I did a lot of training. I was good at it, and most of my employers were more than happy to have me perform this role, because I enjoyed it and got results. Hell, one company even created a corporate trainer position for me, because they were waiting for the right person to walk through the door to do it.

So, trainer. To me, it was basically guiding others into doing their job effectively, giving them the reasons why things were done in that way, and offering tips on how to be most effective in performing the tasks. It is teaching, but it isn't teaching. Training doesn't always allow for individuality, for critical thinking on the part of the trainee.

Two semesters of being a teaching assistant and I see where that role toes the line between trainer and teacher. You're able to offer best practices like a trainer, but you give the student the principles and (at the graduate level, anyway), they're expected to go off on their own to build upon the base you provide. A good TA is always there to answer questions, to steer the student on the right path, but sometimes, they haven't traveled that exact path.

Today, though, I spent time one on one with a student. MY student, one I'll be working with every day, come fall. Guiding her in skills she'll need as she progresses through school. Giving rationales for some of it, but following her lead to see what she already knows and where I have to help her build knowledge.

I think we both came away from our time together a little wiser. For me, it was really exciting to draw upon the past four semesters and that time in management and know that letting the student lead you down the path helps you to better understand.

This year is going to be so exciting.

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