As you transition from a technician to a teacher, you will need to understand that as a technician your success was based on your performance. Based on the skill and knowledge you developed over time. As a teacher your success will depend on the performance of others, those you instruct. It can be a little frightening when you first realize that your success is based on something you have little control of. But, with the right methods and skills, you can become an effective instructor.
Because your success as an instructor will be determined by the performance of others (your students), it is important to understand how people learn and how to communicate most effectively with the individual learners in a way that is effective and relatable. In this series of articles, we will examine various ways to help technicians who are transitioning to teachers develop the skills needed to succeed in an instructional role.
One basic principle of education is that learning goes from the known to the unknown, meaning that a person already possesses some knowledge, and it is your job as the instructor/teacher to enlarge this knowledge base. This requires that you determine what the person being trained already knows about the subject being taught. In a classroom setting this may require a review of fundamentals or might be done through the use of an assessment exam.
Tips for This Topic
Figure out what the learner already knows before venturing into new concepts and techniques.
- Ask the learner to tell you what they already know about the subject.
- Ask the learner to give examples of their knowledge. For example, heat transfer using a pot on the stove.
Review the fundamental principles associated with the new technique being taught.
- Correct and explain any misunderstood concepts that the learner may have.
- Avoid words like WRONG and MISTAKE and replace them with CLARIFICATION and OBSERVATION. Nobody likes to be corrected harshly.
Always Part of Profession
Teaching has always been a part of our profession—whether it is teaching customers to use new technology, sharing a new technique or process with other technicians, or simply helping a coworker who needs some basic customer service skills; you have already served in the role of an instructor often in the normal course of your work.
Andy Erbach is retired from Elgin Community College with 15 years teaching and 20 years as an HVAC technician. He holds professional licenses as a HVAC system contractor, Commercial Industrial Electrical Contractor, and as a Stationary Engineer.
Becoming an Effective HVACR Instructor Series
Transitioning from Technician to Teacher
Written by: Andy Erbach