We Are Both Teachers and Students
Did you know that a Tsetse fly inhabits much of mid-continental Africa between the Sahara and Kalahari deserts? It is a large biting fly, and the first Tsetse fly is known to be at least 34 million years old. There are 23 species of this fly. Why in the world should this information matter if you are not a Ph.D. in the field of insects? It matters because my first assignment in my first nonprofit position at the University of Louisville was to help a faculty member obtain funds to eradicate the Tsetse fly.
I was so green in my first development assignment that I was in disbelief that I had to do something of this nature in my first fundraising role. I did such a lousy job in seeking funds for getting rid of the Tsetse fly that I was quickly given another more reasonable assignment. I spent my entire first job being a student. I tried to learn as a much as I could about the priorities I was trying to promote.
I have been helped in my career because of the fact that I come from a large family of teachers. My wife, sister-in-law, two nieces and other relatives have been or are in this field. I have watched how they prepare to teach others in and out of the classroom. The preparation for teaching is amazing. There is definitely a process to doing this well. My family of teachers has taught me that every student is different. Each student has a learning style all of his or her own. I was taught that teaching represents two-way communication. You can give a great lecture or presentation but you need feedback from the student to indicate that they are grasping the information you are trying to convey to them. I love the process of education and the constant flow of changing information. One has to learn that in order to be a good teacher you also have to be a good student.
I am teaching a college course in the near future. I am excited about this possibility. I am also a perfectionist, which means at times I over prepare. I need to learn to be adaptable and make the teaching experience one filled with two-way learning. My goal in this class is for students to use information and experiences shared to enhance practical application in their jobs. I believe in blending theory and practice. My class will consist of older students already working in their chosen field of endeavor. You always fear that you are boring them. We will see how it goes. I encourage feedback and I suspect I will get it from this class!
Why is teaching important even if you are not a classroom teacher? I was meeting with a prospect for breakfast in a private and quiet location recently. He wanted to know all about my organization because he was very interested in supporting it. My goal was to solicit him for at least $5,000, have him volunteer for a committee and encourage him to secure others to support my organization. I knew at the early phase of this meeting that I would play both a teacher and student role. After presenting my information with passion and emotion, I turned student while listening to my prospect share his information with me.
I learned about his profession and success. He told me about the changing economy and his portfolio, as he is also in sales. I asked questions and listened. We were both teachers and students that meeting. In the end it was a win-win for both of us. He told me that while he liked the arts organization that he was currently involved with, he felt my social services organization could be a better fit for his time, talent and treasure going forward. He made his own decision through my presentation. I said nothing but positive things about that organization. He came to that conclusion on his own. The point is we teach and learn every day. Be prepared to be a teacher and student at the same time. You must communicate effectively if you want to succeed in this business.
The great thing about having experience and knowledge from learning is that I can now more effectively tackle the critical issue of eradicating the Tsetse fly. On second thought, I will leave that noble cause to someone else.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at email@example.com or 317-224-1029.