Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10-10-12 teaching

It's been teaching week at work. I forget how naturally teaching comes when I don't do it for awhile. And I will admit, when I am reminded, I do miss it. I miss seeing the light that comes into someone's eyes when a concept finally clicks and I'm there to witness it. Whatever energy that is, it's an endorphin rush for the teacher as well as the student. I love that people tell me that I'm good at helping them. There is no other arena in my life where anyone honestly says, "You are so patient!" 

The hardest skill to learn as a teacher is when to step back and watch the mistakes without saying a word, offering only the slightest corrections at just the right time. Once you can do that, the student is doing all the important work herself and actually learning. You cannot micromanage someone into knowledge. It just doesn't happen.

I had two people that I've trained on-the-job this week and both of them are a joy to work with. 

One is Trish, who is only ever on the phone and on email, way off in Florida, learning from scratch, trying to grasp so many concepts that I'm sure at the end of the day her brain is ready to explode. I wish I had more time to teach her, but after tomorrow, she's on her own. She's picking up fast, especially learning from the ground floor up. I will have to remind her tomorrow that, ten days ago, she didn't even know the vocabulary. She's come a long way in a very short amount of time and I'm really proud. I feel for her though. She's getting thrown into the deep end and I won't be there to toss a life preserver. One of the downsides of this job is that no one understands how complex, how illogical but strangely systematic -- how Alice In Wonderland -- it is until you have to do it yourself. Most technicians and service writers and office managers and everyone else at the dealership think it can't be that hard. You just look up codes! Oh, if they only knew. And I will admit to a tiny sadistic thrill when someone finally gets how screwed up, upside down, and backwards the warranty administrator's job really is.  Trish is that person this week. And next week, as I'm away on vacation, Alice is going to have to fall down that rabbit hole entirely unsupervised all by herself. 

The other is Leilani, who is a Mercedes whiz in her own right, but is learning a brand new system. She knows the language but not the dialect or the idioms required to work in ADP instead of Reynolds&Reynolds. I sat with her all Monday and she's a quick learner. Plus, as a bonus, I'm learning tricks from her in her native language/system that I never knew existed. Yesterday Jami, my manager, calls and asks, if at all possible, could I come back in one more time to work with Leilani before she's out of here on Friday and winging it back to San Francisco, where she lives, to work from home? I told her I was expecting to. If she'd really picked up everything in one day, I'd have suggested she go make millions being Rain Man in Vegas instead of toiling away with warranty work. 

As with everything new, you just have to try it on your own, make enough mistakes to shatter all your self confidence, and then have a teacher who reminds you: that's because you're human. Start again. From the top. Do it until you don't have to think about it and suddenly you realize you just raced through all those steps that seemed like you would never even remember them in the right order. 

And then?  Find the next new thing.

one of my favorites


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