We are all Teachers

“Congratulations, Papa for being recognized to the Order of Canada.” This was coming from my fourteen year old grandson. He probably heard it from his Mom & Dad talking about the event. My response was “Thank you, Markus. It is indeed an honour to receive this recognition.” I then asked myself, how does a fourteen year old boy put this into his prospective? “Do you remember, Markus, when your Dad was upset with the dents you were putting in the garage door, and the windows you broke while you were perfecting your shot?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “There are three of us that have hard shots, but I’m the most accurate and I’m leading the league in scoring.” That’s it, Markus. We live in a cause and effect world. The reason you have an accurate shot is you worked at it. You practiced every day and I sometimes practiced with you when you were little and growing up. We had those games in the basement and you always had to be Sakic or some other NHL’er and you would relegate me to be Messier or someone else that caught your fancy. The reason I used this illustration for Markus was so he could relate and understand what I was trying to convey to him in his language.

Probably our world’s greatest investment is in teaching children, friends and our fellow team members the secrets we learned or someone taught us in our development.

It was 60 years ago that a friend of mine who had been around a well coached baseball team, taught me. He showed ma how to pick up a grounder. Up until them I fielded by reflex or blockage. I was playing third base, I already knew you needed a short-finger infield glove. He said, “As a right-handed thrower, you should be taking the grounders with a slightly turned in left foot, pointing to the base you are throwing to. Try to take the ball off you right leg so the ball moves up to you right hand for a quick release.” It made sense and with a lot of practice, I became a proficient third baseman.

We, as team members, whether we are managers or specialized line workers have the opportunity to help someone learn the important steps to do a job function effectively and efficiently. When I was running the downtown store in Peace River, we did the floor maintenance with part-time boys. We had the battery scrubber, but the interesting machine was the swing machine we used for stripping the floor. When we were training the new operator, we would explain the process to the trainee and showed him how it worked, usually having the smallest boy of the crew demonstrate with one hand. Then we would let him operate it. Usually the machine would take off and the fellow would, with brute force, try to control the machine. We then explain the process, emphasizing the balance and showed him again the techniques of lifting the handle to go one way and pushing it down to go the other. This is the process that we believe a lot of trade use. It is a four-step process:

  1. Tell them.
  2. Show them.
  3. Let them do it.
  4. Correct them if necessary. Repeat all if necessary.

The other very important component to teaching is speaking in the language each person understands. To quote Emerson, “No one can learn what he has not prepared for learning, however near to his eyes is the object. Place yourself in the middle of the stream of power and wisdom which animates all whom it floats, and you are, without effort, impelled to truth, to right and a perfect contentment.”

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