Even though I have been an educator for over 10 years, one of the things I always work to do is remember what it was like at the beginning. Remembering the beginning is not an easy thing to do.
It is easy for a teacher who has read The Grapes of Wrath over 10 times to get frustrated that the “kids just don’t get it” or “they just don’t know as much as the students did before.” It’s easy, as things get easier for us, to get frustrated at learners’ confusion and overwhelm.
When I help entrepreneurs create their education for their particular audience, I try to keep in mind how difficult it was for me when I first began to teach. Surprisingly, I was extremely shy for most of my life. I hated speaking, and when I looked around at the other teachers in my teacher education program, I was obviously the one with the biggest difficulty with confidence and speaking. To me at least, I felt like the one that really shouldn’t have been there.
But as I grew as a teacher, I realized that one of my biggest strengths as a teacher was to easily hone into the feelings of just beginning… for my students’ sake. I will intentionally consider something difficult to read and understand in order to get back into the shoes of the teens and give them help where they are and not where I think they should be and definitely not where I am now.
That’s what I want to do with you today, as you begin on your course creation journey. I want to get back to the moment when I was first starting and give you tips to overcome some of the biggest challenges that you might face in your journey as an entrepreneur turned educator.
There are many huge issues that all teachers in all situations teaching all ages go through and there are common solutions for each barrier, so let’s get started.
1. Remembering the Overwhelm
We’ve all been there. You know something so well that when you begin to teach it, you get impatient quickly wondering why “they just don’t get it!!”
This is how I feel sometimes when I have to go to my parent’s house to help them print something and try hard to teach them that all you really need to do is press the button that looks like a printer.
But I have to remember that it’s not the steps that are the issue, it’s the technology that is the issue. It’s the overwhelm and the options and remembering where the buttons are and knowing what to do if you accidentally press the wrong button.
I work with a lot of what I call “crazy, smart people.” They are so smart that they go from zero to one million in 0.6 seconds.
I worked with a guy who was doing CRM through one of those fancy infusasoft programs (intentional mess up) that was so insanely smart that I finally had to tell him, “Answer my question and my question only. Do not explain until I ask.”
He was awesomely passionate about his nerdy business, but he would lose people by the second word that he said, he would get into his head and just start spitting out data like a robot. I loved his passion, but it wasn’t helpful to have that immediate shut down of empathy into data-mode if you were a student trying to learn from him. Luckily, we were able to work on slowing him down and having him think about his audience and we built out a good foundation for his program. (Yey!!)
As we become experts, it can be extremely hard to remember what it was like to not get it and slow down enough to teach it to other people. Some teachers are like that and have a “You either sink or swim” attitude, and it works for a small percentage of people, but when you are getting paid to teach someone, it’s about serving them and not about your own excitement about the topic.
As we become experts, it can be extremely hard to remember what it was like to not get it and slow down enough to teach it to other people.Jessica L. Moody
Take time to remember what things were like when you were first learning. Most likely you didn’t leave the womb an expert, so remember things that you struggled with, things that helped you, and people that taught you. Take those things and apply them to your training because if it helped you, it should have a high probability that it will help others.
2. Knowing Something Doesn’t Easily Translate to Teaching It
Program and Course creation is my side-gig and I am a full-time British Literature teacher for 11th and 12th graders. One of my least favorite things to teach is grammar, mainly because the minute you say the word grammar to 17- and 18-year-olds, their eyes immediately gloss over and they barely keep their eyes open… maybe you remember being the same way. Haha!
Well, the way I overcome my hatred for teaching grammar is simple… I make the students teach it to the class. *cue evil laugh* It’s fun for me because I get to teach them a little bit of how I build a lesson and some suggestions for teaching.
But I understand that they have a few barriers that stop them from doing well:
1. They hate grammar, too.
2. They have never taught before.
3. They think it will be easy, but they quickly realize it’s not.
4. They don’t know the subject that they will be teaching very well.
5. They think they will never have to teach (since most of them insist that they won’t be teachers) so they don’t put much effort into it.
All these factors combine to having a mediocre lesson which I praise only because I know that what I asked them to do is hard, and even better: I just taught them a lesson that what I do is not as easy as it looks.
Another plus is that the students who teach the lesson begin to learn the grammar concept better than they would have doing a mindless assignment, and most of the students in class learn from their fellow students better than they would have learned from me (especially if they find the “teachers” attractive. lol!! It’s funny how much a teen girl can learn from a cute teen boy.)
All this about teens teaching has one overall point: it’s not easy to teach something even if you know it, and furthermore, you might realize how much more you have to learn when you attempt to teach it. BUT the number one reason most people struggle with creating and teaching an online course is something I must make into its own point: teaching is much easier than creating curriculum.
3. Writing Curriculum to Teach and Teaching are two Different things
I want to share something that might be surprising to a non-teacher: most teachers HATE creating curriculum and writing lesson plans. Like HATE with the fire of Hades HATE. And most teachers use already created curriculum, they use the book curriculum, and they buy curriculum from places like Teacher Pay Teacher (click the link to check out my TPT Store where I consistently upload my self-created curriculum).
Teaching with a lesson plan is hard, but it is much easier than creating a curriculum from scratch (which is what I do since I’m a curriculum nerd to the max). Creating curriculum is almost impossible for most people, which is what you would be doing if you create an online course or program.
There is no easy solution to teaching people how to write their own curriculum on their own subject. But I insist on giving you a foundation for completing it. I want to tell you as much as possible within this blog article what is happening when you create a curriculum. Here it goes:
When creating curriculum, you are basically looking at an already built house from the outside and trying to breakdown the steps that the contractors did to build it. You see the outside nicely painted, on the inside there is carpet and decorations, but you really have to force yourself into start by imagining how the whole thing started.
It started by clearing the ground, digging holes, making sure that the ground was level and would be able to hold a house. The foundation layers had to do hundreds of steps before they had a clear enough pathway to lay the foundation. This clearing out is the mindset of your audience. Where do they come from, what do they want, what level of knowledge do they have, and how to we put everyone on equal ground to start?
Then they start to build the frame. We have to know that there is a place for everything, we will see the structure of the house forming before there are walls or a roof. The structure gives us a place to put everything we want in the house and in your course. We need to lay out the outline and the structure and play with the possibilities.
Next, they build the walls and lay the roof. In a course or program, this could look like the content and the key concepts that will build a stronger foundation for the learners and create some barriers around what the audience will learn and what they won’t.
Finally, the contractors go in and add the electric, the lights, the flooring, and the other details to make it ready for a family to buy. These are the additional details that must be added to make it complete. This is what I call the finisher-step. Meaning, the person who has a good eye for detail, the one who loves to edit, or one who fill in the gaps to make sure it flows.
Lastly, the decorator is optional. Making the course pretty, adding bells and whistles, and the extras is to add value, branding, and make the audience feel happy when they see all the additional work you put into it with them in mind.
Once the house is built, you still have to live in it. Building the house is different than living and bringing people in. They are two different things. Writing your course curriculum is different than teaching it and either one of these two skills are life long challenges, but both of them together can be quite a bit to tackle. It takes time, understanding and just going out and doing it as well as possible without letting fear, perfection, and overwhelm stop you.
People see this stuff that says 6 days to create your course and other unrealistic promises but I’ll never lie to you like that. Some, and I mean SOME people will be able to do that, but I doubt that any of them 1. Didn’t have help and 2. Didn’t already teach what they are turning into a course a thousand times before.
Curriculum IS hard. Turning your knowledge into a course IS hard. You have a zillion ideas and might be overwhelmed with the options and that is exactly why I do what I do. I want to help with that because I know that you have expert knowledge you can and should share.
The way I help is by spending 2 hours with you and clarifying what you will do, what it will look like, and how you will accomplish it. I will also give you resources and guidance to help you along your journey. Send me a message or schedule a meeting with me if that is you and you’d like to see for yourself if I can help. Click here to schedule a 15 minute chat.
Even if you don’t want to chat, I’d love to hear from you. Is there anything you agree or disagree with? Any question? Any topics you want me to cover, anything. Chat soon!!