Historically I was never a big Sherlock Holmes fan. But with the recent movies and two TV series, my interest has grown. His methods, insights and attitudes are intriguing.
What I have come to realize is that many of the tools Sherlock Holmes uses for solving a mystery are also wonderful tools for helping a class run smoothly. We just need to look at them a little differently and apply them to our challenge of teaching a class effectively as opposed to solving a crime.
Here are some teaching tips from Sherlock Holmes:
Be observant: being keenly observant is Sherlock Holmes’s main characteristic. Pay attention to what is going on all around you. Watch how your students respond as you provide information. Be aware of how the physical environment is affecting the learning environment. Is the majority of the class able to keep up with your pace? Is the level of information you are providing appropriate for the participants? Does the class need a stretch break? Be aware of and responsive to the students before they even realize what they need.
Be an expert: Sherlock Holmes has incredible knowledge. Whatever you are teaching, know it thoroughly and be prepared to answer questions. You can’t “cram” just prior to a class and expect to be successful. Prepare appropriately and not only will you be ready for class, but you will probably learn new information about your subject. Even so, it doesn’t mean you won’t get asked a question you are not prepared to answer; but really, these should be rare.
Be confident: Sherlock Holmes enters a room with authority. It is human nature for groups of people to want to have a “leader.” In a classroom environment, particularly with adult learners, that leader must be the instructor or the class will spin out of control very quickly. Confidence in your subject matter and your teaching skills are key to presenting an aura of authority If you are looking for some tips and tricks in this arena, this post has helpful ideas.
Be focused: Sherlock Holmes never loses sight of the goal. In some learning environments it is easy for your students to derail the class. Always have a clear goal in mind and if necessary, write it up on the board so everyone knows where the class is headed. Although sharing supplemental information is a great benefit, it is not useful to your students if it comes at the cost of missing the original learning objective.
Be unique: Sherlock Holmes has an unusual perspective. No matter what the subject matter, your experiences, your approach and your personality provide a one-of-a-kind perspective on the information being shared. Just because someone else teaches the same subject doesn’t mean that your class will be the same as theirs. Embrace the differences that you bring to the classroom and don’t try to mimic another person’s style or content.Your class will be so much better when it is a complete reflection of you.
Which of these characteristics will be most helpful to you when you teach your next class?