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.”
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 …
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.