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Are teachers born or made?

This was one of the first questions asked of us when I started teacher training college in England a number – possibly a great number – of years ago. For most of us in my year, the former seemed to be true. But then we had all chosen to be teachers so felt we had a natural inclination towards it.

But this wasn’t true for everyone and hasn’t been the case for some of the many student teachers I’ve had over the years. Somehow, their perceptions of what it takes to be a good teacher and what that actually looked like had not aligned very well. To put it bluntly, they didn’t last long.

You want me to do what?

So, it’s easy to imagine the angst for someone who excels in a laboratory or technical setting and is now required to train or teach others. It isn’t likely they have a natural inclination towards teaching otherwise they would have sought out the opportunity for themselves. And to make things worse, a common myth is “anyone can teach”. This may be true, but they can’t necessarily teach well. And this is probably the last thing your boss wants to hear from you.


According to Forbes, “data is growing faster than ever before and by the year 2020, about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet.” And your boss wants you to share some of it with your subordinates – efficiently, completely and in a cost-effective manner. Yes, pressure.

Even university professors, who have chosen to go into a field of educating others, can struggle with effective teaching, especially if they have had no formal training.

Is there any hope?

Yes, but it will take some work and thoughtful preparation on your part. Part of your preparation should include instruction on how to improve your teaching and training skills in a variety of settings. CITI Program’s Teaching and Training for Professionals provides instruction on the art and science of teaching and training, covering everything from the fundamentals of what teaching and training are to evaluating success and providing remediation. Learn more.