I’ve worked as a senior-level manager, as a military officer, as a teacher, and as an entrepreneur, but throughout all of this, my role has been much the same: to develop people.
My experience as a manager has shown me that people rise or descend to meet your expectations of them.
Of course, there is far more to employee (and student) development than just having high expectations of your people. But without this foundation, all else falls apart.
For developing people, experience is the greatest teacher.
Learning the resiliency to fail yet continue on, reflecting upon what went wrong, and to try again, is one of the key skills to develop in people.
And as a manager or teacher, you need to be able to step back from problem solving, and instead listen without judgement and, with a deft hand, guide a person through this process.
I was the training manager at a large, regional pest control company in the Midwest, running classes on entomology, rodents, toxicology, and other topics for both employees and the public. My new employees exceeded the state average on their pesticide applicator certification test, and one of his computer-based classes received the Education Program Award from the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America.
Always looking to explore new, innovate pedagogy, I established an online training academy in WordPress using the LearnDash LMS. For content, I set up a small studio where he recorded classes using iMovie, a RODE Podcaster, and a Logitech / Carl Ziess camera. I have also been a long-time user of Articulate products, and built interactive classes using Storyline.
In the military, I served as the chief of the DoD Pesticide Applicator Training Center at Camp Zama, Japan, and taught local national and military students in Japan, Singapore, Hawaii, and the British Indian Ocean Territory (Diego Garcia).
I also served as a guest instructor at the Japan Self Defense Force Language School in Kodaira, Japan.
My twenty years of experience in education has shown him that students learn more and are more engaged when, rather than having an instructor standing up in front of them delivering information, they are given activities that lead them to the lesson’s learning objectives.
What does this look like in practice? Instead of an instructor giving a PowerPoint presentation on cockroaches, students are given actual samples that they might find in the field, use their reference material to look up key facts to know, and practice performing applications of pesticides on sections of cabinets brought into the classroom just for the lesson. The instructor transforms from a fount of knowledge (which will likely be forgotten by students before they need it) to a facilitator, making sure students are thinking through problems correctly, adjusting their performance, and making corrections as necessary.
This is called student-centered learning.