What I learn teaching

20150509_134102 (2)I spent last Friday teaching seminars at HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College). I’ve always found from both teaching college classes and speaking at writers’ conferences that I enjoy the experience (though my mouth tends to go dry). I don’t know if I’d want to do it full time, but I always get something out of the speaking experiences.

I like being able to interact with people who share an interest in the subject I’m teaching. Friday, it was how to e-publish your book and the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. In listening to questions I get from attendees, I learn where my presentation might be weak. By watching their body language, I can tell what topics attendees find more interesting than others. Then I can adjust myself accordingly to better meet their needs the next time I talk on the subject.

Personally, I tend to surprise myself a lot at how well I know most of the subjects. I don’t say this to be egotistical. As I said, it’s is a surprise to me, too.

Even if I wanted to be a full-time instructor, at most colleges, I couldn’t be since I don’t have a master’s degree. Yet, when I’m talking to a class about writing, and the students ask me a question, I can generally answer it. Most of the time, I can also relate it to a real-life experience I’ve had. With the classes Friday, I used experiences from formatting a book for e-publishing that I had worked on that morning to help answer questions.

I’ve been writing professionally for 30 years. I’ve worked with a wide variety of editors and bosses, media, subject matter and types of writing. Yes, there’s a lot I can still learn, but there’s a lot of steps and missteps I’ve made that can benefit other aspiring writers. The real-world experience that I bring to the discussion tends to be one thing consistently noted in my class evaluations.

For me, seminars and teaching have been a win-win. The attendees appreciate the information I share, and I learn more about myself afterward. It’s just part of my search for what I want to do when I grow up!

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