Teaching and selling are alike
Teaching is no different to selling a product or service. You are essentially selling knowledge to your students every day.
We know that most people only buy things that they generally need or deem to be of value to them. So the basic tenet of selling is to find a need and fill that need.
A typical classroom situation is many students, maybe as many as 25 to 30, who all have differing needs and interests. So how do you get them to collectively focus on what you are teaching?
Step one is to recognise that everyone, including your students, has a unique set of values. (When I mention values, I am not referring to morals and ethics, but to what is most valuable or important to an individual.) Your hierarchy of values is based on things that are most important, leading down to things that are least important.
Whatever is highest on your value barometer, you are inspired from within to do. Whatever is lowest on your value list, you need outside motivation to do. Your highest value forms your identity, and you disown the lowest. There tends to be order and empowerment in your highest value and chaos and disempowerment in your lowest. Every human being is this way.
Values determine what they focus on
Therefore, your students’ individual values determine what they focus on in class. They will tend to have “attention deficit disorder” on what disinterests them and “attention surplus order” in the areas that most interest them.
Knowing what your students place highest on their hierarchy of values will assist you to communicate the syllabus to them in a context they can relate to.
Step two is to determine your students’ values. For this, I have developed what I call The Demartini Value Determination Process™. Ask your students to write down three answers to each of the following 12 questions:
- How do you fill your personal space? (What do you fill your room at home with?)
- How do you spend most of your time when you are not at school? (Example: playing soccer.)
- How do you spend most of your energy?
- How do you spend most of your money? (You will feel reluctant to spend money on things you perceive as unimportant. If something means something to you, you will certainly figure out a way to pay for it.)
- Where are you most organised and ordered?
- Where are you most reliable, disciplined and focused?
- What do you mostly inwardly think about?
- What do you mostly envision or dream about?
- What do you internally discuss with yourself about most?
- What do you talk about most in social settings? (What are the three things that you chat about most to your friends?)
- What inspires you most?
- What are your most consistent long-term goals?
Most of the questions will have similar answers.
Step three is to get your students to count the number of similar answers. The most repeated will be their highest value, the second most repeated will be their second-highest value, and so on.
Step four is to summarise your students’ top three values on a list and keep it in front of you while you are teaching as a quick reference. If you communicate what you are teaching in terms of the students’ values, you will attract their attention, they will be more inspired to learn and you will be more inspired to teach.
Step five is to determine your own values and then link your highest values to the subjects you teach. Write down 200 or more benefits of how teaching that particular subject will assist you in fulfilling your highest value. Do that with each subject. As you go through this exercise, you will begin to see greater opportunities and ways to inspire your students to become enthusiastic about each subject. Your intuition will clearly define your mission and your own inspiration will shine through in the way you present each subject.
When you see how whatever you are doing is fulfilling your values, you will be more confident, clearer and more stimulating in your communication of the subject. When the teacher is inspired, the students can’t wait to learn.
Human behavioural specialist, educator, internationally published author and consultant Dr John Demartini is founder of the Demartini Institute.