How to Enjoy and Use the Benefits of Teaching
by Chris King

A wise person once told me that if I wanted to learn something, I should teach it. Stephen Covey, one of my favorite gurus, also suggests that the way to internalize an idea, habit/ principle is to share it with someone else. I was reminded of this idea just this week as I read a past March issue of the makes-you-really-think magazine, Fast Company.

Harriet Rubin in her article "The Trouble with Mentors" writes, "Advice is overrated. Before you learn what others know, you need to learn what you know … I've found that the worthwhile things in life I taught myself … Find someone whom you can mentor on the subject that you want to master. You will learn quickly and indelibly." How true! In this article I will share ways to learn (and also market yourself) through teaching.

Determine what you know that others would be interested in learning. Being a free agent, independent professional, and freelancer teaches one, as you know by now, how to accomplish and excel in many areas. My career, which I call a "Portfolio Career" consists of a whole variety of careers, and even if I haven't pursued some of those careers recently, I know a lot about them. Last year in February I read about a company that was looking for people to write e-books about "Dream Jobs" so I proposed a couple of ideas, and now have two books at the Dream Jobs to Go website, How to Get Started as a Professional Storyteller and How to Get Started as a Fitness Instructor.

What happened because of this endeavor is that I learned more than I could ever imagine learning about two of my present careers - the books involved interviewing others in these professions and also visiting useful websites. Other benefits have been some income (slow but sure) and great exposure. Remember, writing any type of book produces credibility for the author.

Once you have determined what you could teach to others, what are some of the other ways to go about it?

Investigate Continuing Education opportunities. Almost every community has a recreational department, a community services department and/or a community college that offers adult/youth community education classes. These range from practical, how-to classes, to motivational/inspirational sessions, to physical fitness, Tarot card reading, and on and on. Ask for sample brochures to check out what and what types of classes are being offered, and then make a proposal for something you know about or have experienced that is not listed.

Generally, if a class doesn't attract enough people it will be cancelled, but all you have lost is teaching that class. However, you have gained exposure as an expert in that area by being listed and have learned about a topic that doesn't appeal to a large number of people. This is good for a writer and/or speaker to know, but it might also be the way it is being marketed.

Usually, teaching Continuing Education classes doesn't pay a huge amount for the time invested, but there are many other benefits. I have been teaching them for years and the following are some of the tangibles I have gained:

  • A thorough understanding of my topics. By structuring a class and creating handouts, I have learned the ins and outs of what works and what doesn't. I am always working on improving the sessions, so I constantly read and learn lots about my subjects.
  • Contacts and free marketing for my freelancing. The people who attend my classes do marketing for me by telling others about what I do. I have received speaking engagements, storytelling workshops and referrals all because of the classes I teach.
  • Satisfaction! When I have done a good job, the students are pleased and start using what they have learned and/or been motivated to learn. The best part is when I see one of them later on the street and they grab me to say, "I took you class ___ years ago. It changed my life!" WOW!

Share what you know on the Internet. There are an incredible number of opportunities - and they are increasing daily - for information sharing over the Internet. What if you don't feel that you are a writer? Well, we all need to work on our communication skills, so taking on a website/column for a publisher will give you the practice you need to learn how and increase your skills. For example, a site like this one you are visiting, was originally hosted by a publisher that provided a portal for information sites.

If you are willing to put in some time writing for and maintaining a site, you will not only learn so much more about your chosen field, you will also learn the ins and outs of HTML (a lot easier than you would fathom), graphics, web advertising, and much, much more. Besides maintaining the three information sites I started with the original publisher(you will find all three here), I write two other weekly columns. And, I will guarantee that you will learn a great deal more than you will ever teach to others.

I could go on and on about all of the wonderful people I have met through my teaching avenues and all of the skills and knowledge I have accumulated. But, at this point I will just say, "Try it! You'll like it!"

Hot News:

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Contact Chris King at:
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Eastlake, Ohio 44095

Phone: (440) 918-1313



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