Writers are teachers. Are you ready to teach?

In the spring of 2011, I let my intuition guide me and – on the spur of the moment – signed up for a course that has inspired, encouraged, and educated me in ways I never expected, but for which I am very grateful. The course is called TeachNow and it was created by the lovely Jen Louden and Michele Lisenbury Christensen.

Looking back, I’m not sure what made me decide to sign up. I had never considered myself a teacher per se. I thought of teachers in traditional terms – in a classroom or on a college campus. The only teaching I’d done, I thought, was when I was a child and had taught my younger sister to name all the parts of a horse. “I’m not a teacher,” I said, “I’m a writer.”

But, writers are teachers.

TeachNow changed my understanding of what it is to be a teacher. I learned that the teacher doesn’t need to know everything. I learned that teaching is less about instruction and more about helping students rediscover what they already know. I learned that teaching is also about holding space and giving students permission to explore and experiment and create.

My friend just posted this quote on Twitter and it reminded me of everything I learned with TeachNow:

“The role of the teacher is to create the conditions for invention rather than provide ready-made knowledge.”
~Seymour Papert

So … how are writers teachers?

Writers write to share what they know – of the world, of themselves, of the human condition. We tell stories to illuminate, to inspire … to teach. Our words reach out to the reader and draw her in, bringing her into our world, letting her see through our eyes. We bring characters to life to serve the same purpose – to provide an experience that teaches about another life, another person, another truth.

I believe that every writer is a natural teacher. You may not think so (yet), but think about it. Why do you write? What are you hoping to accomplish? For many of us, the answer is that we want to create some kind of change in the world. We hope that, through our writing, someone will gain a new perspective, try a new challenge, see the world in a new light. Our words are powerful catalysts for change and growth – for learning.

Not all writers teach in the traditional sense … 

True enough.

Maybe you have no interest actively teaching, preferring to take the role of a passive teacher who instructs through story. That’s an absolutely noble cause. But, maybe there is something you’d like to teach. Maybe there’s something you can teach that would complement and supplement your writing. Maybe teaching would open up new opportunities for your writing. After all, teaching brings people together in creative and inspiring ways and people who teach are often more well-known and respected because of their teaching work.

… but, if you think you might have something to teach … 

I highly recommend TeachNow.

The links I’m sharing here are affiliate links – which means I get a little kickback if you sign up. I am not an affiliate for any other course. I am not in the habit of promoting other people’s materials, but TeachNow is one I believe in so strongly that I can’t help myself. I have to share.

In January of this year, I taught my first online course. Inspired by the knowledge and support I’d gained from Jen, Michele, and all the wonderful TeachNow students, I finally got brave and ran a beta class about branding. When a student, who had not yet taken the TeachNow course, asked me my opinion of it, here is what I said:

“I don’t want to sound like an infomercial, but I can’t recommend TeachNow enough. I have taken quite a few classes about the technical and strategic side of online teaching, but TeachNow was the first class that gave me what I really needed – a way to approach the possibility of teaching from the inside out. It provided not only confidence, but a working framework that supported me in my creation of this course (which, I promise, will be the first of many). The community has been wonderful, and the energy stays with me. This is the only class that I have taken more than once AND the only class materials that I have returned to multiple times (and learned from with each new listen).”

It’s all true. Just last month I was feeling blocked on a project. I listened to a few of my favorite interviews from TeachNow and found the answers I needed to move forward.

So – that’s my spiel, such as it is. This is a course I love. This is a course that has made a difference in how I think about myself, how I value my knowledge, and how I see my potential to bring about change in the world. It has given me the tools, courage, and support system to launch a class of my own with more to come.

Are you curious?

If any of this piques your interest, Jen and Michele are offering a free intro/preview/teaser class on Wednesday, September 19th at 10AM Pacific/1PM EST. You can register for the call here: The Triple Bottom Line of Teaching: More Contribution, Income, and Evolution.

I hope you’ll check it out. Love to hear what you think if you do.



P.S. I should mention that this course is not “just” inspiration and motivation, it’s also brass tacks and straight talk. The conversations on calls and in the Facebook group have been priceless as fellow teachers share their journeys, tips, and insights. Nothing is sacred. No question is dumb. Also, the course is for anyone who wants to teach anything anywhere – new teacher, experienced teacher; online, offline; knitting, marketing, investment, yoga, writing …

P.P.S. I chose the picture of Jen and Michele (above) because it perfectly illustrates how much fun they are. These are women with big hearts, big ideas, and the ability to elicit big laughs and epiphanies at the same time. Pretty cool.

11 thoughts on “Writers are teachers. Are you ready to teach?

  1. My dear old daddy (and he liked to be called my ‘my dear old daddy’) always said, “The best way to learn is to teach.” I learn most when I teach. I lead classes that much anymore but I always learn more than the participants in the class.

    • Andrew, that is SO true. And it’s a lesson I learned first hand when I sat down to write curriculum for my branding class. You have to break things way down, get to the core, find six ways to get the idea across. It was an excellent exercise for me and was invaluable in gaining new understanding about my own process and philosophy on the topic.
      What do you teach?

      • I’ve taught electronics, software development and some classes on public speaking. I even taught a class on resume writing and interview skills once. Been awhile since I’ve done that. Might be time to do one again.

      • Wow, you have quite a range!
        I’d think that resume writing and interviewing classes would be really popular right now. Good luck with that if you decide to give it another go!

  2. Thanks for this. As a teacher of composition at a state university, a writer and a former secondary teacher, I believe whole-heartedly that writers are teachers in ever sense. I hope your post illuminates this for others.

    • Thanks, Sarah.
      I think everyone is a teacher in some way, though we don’t always give ourselves that title.
      Writers are especially able, though, to teach because of our innate curiosity, communication skills, and desire to share our inner thoughts and ideas.

      Thanks for all you do in the world of teaching. I’m always amazed at people who teach secondary and university. It takes a special spirit! 🙂

  3. Nice post! I hope to be a published author one day but I would also love to be a teacher at the same time. I never stopped to think about why I’m being so drawn to both careers at once. Writers really ARE teachers, aren’t they? Except their lesson plans are embedded in their story and their audience isn’t a classroom full of students- it’s the world. It’s just a different way to go about teaching. These are some very interesting thoughts! Thanks for sharing.

    • Excellent. I don’t think it’s possible to separate writer and teacher – I think they are two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Love that you have aspirations in both areas!

  4. Years ago when I was in the early stages of studying classical karate, my sensei told me I would be required to teach in order to obtain a black belt. I balked, telling him I was too shy, didn’t think it was for me. He said, “I gave you a gift. It’s a gift you cannot keep. You must pass it on if you really appreciate what I’ve given you.”
    I taught and in doing so, realized why it was required to obtain a black belt. There is so much to be learned about yourself in the process of teaching and I felt richer for it. I think this applies to everything we learn in life. It’s part of our humanity – to share in any way we can.

    • “There is so much to be learned about yourself in the process of teaching …”

      That is so, SO true! AND you also learn so much about your subject matter. That’s one of the great gifts of teaching – the teacher learns, too!

  5. Pingback: WordPress Bloggers Quotable Quotes | poemattic

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