I still remember what a shock it was to discover, just as I was finishing my graduate training to be a theology professor, that I was about to have to start to learn to be a teacher. Suddenly I was faced with the realization that the art and science of teaching—pedagogy—wasn't merely a gift that came with my facility as a student; it was a craft that I still needed to learn, if I was going to teach.
In the process, I inadvertently made an even more important and humbling realization: as little as I knew about myself as a teacher, I knew even less about my students as learners.
I had grown up believing that good students simply were good learners by definition—and that great teachers were merely born with the gift of teaching. Now I was about to find out just how much I needed to learn about pedagogy. However, the art and science of learning ("andragogy," to use Malcolm Knowles's coinage) simply never, ever got addressed in my preparation to teach. I didn't know what my students were like as learners, or what they themselves contributed to the dance of classroom teaching and learning.
Over the years I have shifted from my original vocational focus on being a good teacher to the central role of the learner in the process of forming and sustaining vital leadership for congregational life. Here are ten lessons that I continue to learn about what this means.
Adapted from "Ten Lessons about Being a Learner-Centered Teacher" in Congregations Summer 2009 (vol. 35, no. 3).