Learners not liking you? Why it might be okay.

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“I didn’t like you.”

Yep, that’s what she told me.

Year ago, while at our university’s graduation, a former Education student saw me and approached. 

 Without a hello, she simply said – “I didn’t like you.”

“In fact” she continued, “I wrote mean teaching evaluations and spoke poorly about you.”

What she said next is SUPER important to your teaching team’s success. 

She continued.

“But a few weeks ago, during a job interview for a teaching position I realised something.” 

“It was during the interview that I truly saw just how much I learned from your classes.”  

“In fact, it was only during the process of answering the interviewer’s questions that I realized,

…OMG, I’ve learned so much from him!”

“I wanted to apologise and say thank you.” 

I tell you this story, because if you and your team want your learning sessions to cause: 

  • transformative understanding
  • positive behavioral change
  • learners to use for the rest of their lives
  • and learning to stick, for everyone…

 …there’s 3 things to remember:

1. Learning doesn’t always stick in real time

Learning is not like building a car.  Teaching and learning is the interaction between people, knowledge, and experiences.

It can be a messy, exciting, and unpredictable process.    

In over 25 years in our professional, I’ve seen so many learners tell me, years later, that things stuck for them.  Just not in real time.

Please take the larger view of your work.  You might find out later, the impact you had.

2. It might look different

My former student wrote me bad evaluations, partly because our learning sessions were so different than what she had experienced previously.  

As a result, she believed she wasn’t learning anything.

If you’re focused on making learning stick for everyone, rather than the delivery of information or task completion, it’s important to know that your learning sessions might look and feel different than what your learners are used to.

3. It takes courage to teach

It takes courage to do the work you do.  You might get funny looks when you try new things and work to ensure learning sticks for everyone.

You might even get a former learner letting you know they didn’t like you.

There will also be days when despite the best planning, coordination and effort, the learning sessions fall apart.  

During these times you might feel vulnerable, doubtful or ready to give up.

It takes courage to do what you do. 

May you continue to be courageous.
Dr. William DeJean

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A question for you...

Parker J. Palmer says it takes courage to teach. In what ways do you believe this is true? If you teach, present or run professional learning sessions, we’d love to know your answer!

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