At the beginning of a new school year, the good teachers of our past often come to mind. There is nothing like being in contact with a master teacher. The mark of master teachers is that they can profoundly affect an aspect of our life that changes the way we experience and live it.
During the formal education years, teachers continually pass in front of us. Sometimes we choose them, but, as often as not, they appear in courses or classes that are required. A few influential ones emerge. In some cases, they made the content come alive in a vibrant way. At other times, the content is long forgotten, but their energy, personal attention, or insights remain alive for years.
Imagine the value of having teachers like that throughout a lifetime.
Master teachers do not disappear when school is complete and the career begins. The difference is that it takes an active interest in identifying the areas of personal interest, finding such people, and getting into a position to be influenced. Over a period of years, personal and professional capabilities can grow in unexpected ways from working with a series of well-chosen teachers.
These influential people generally are not advertising themselves. Often, they are just going about their business in their own unique way and are open and available to those who have an interest in what they do. Their competence is not defined by such descriptions as job title, faculty member, mentor, role model, minister, social worker etc. Professionals with such titles provide information and guidance in respective fields, but are not de facto teachers. You don’t have to ask about a master teacher, you know it when you see it. It is an individual perception, depending upon time and conditions. However, recognition is only the first step. The decision and action to seek them out and learn from them, either formally or informally, is the next.
The special case of a teacher at work
Early in one’s career, it is essential that an individual demonstrate skills and the ability to get things done. If a person recognizes the need to develop these to a higher level, the most efficient way is to learn from other’s experience, such as a direct supervisor or a close co-worker.
The ideal situation is to select a great teacher and be paid for being instructed by that person. Who could ask for more? Realistically, the opportunity does not happen often. On occasion, however, the stars line up. There is a possibility to work with a person who has the ability, perspective, and interest to stretch those who work around them in a way that increases their abilities. It is an opportunity to seize.
Ask–When a young employee has a career development discussion, the subjects are invariably project assignments, opportunities, promotions, increased responsibility, and salary. These topics are appropriate, but do not exhaust the possibilities. If there is an opportunity to work with someone who can function as a teacher, make that request directly. Since these requests are relatively unusual, they are often accommodated, even when it is not the “logical” choice.
It may be a great investment and is a small risk to make for an encounter with a teacher.