I’ve known for a long time now that teaching makes me a better database administrator and performance tuner. But I’ve had a hard time figuring out why.
At first I thought preparation was the differentiator. Writing a presentation requires extensive research and testing. You see some details that you might not otherwise notice.
That’s true enough, but that’s not actually the big differentiator.
Teaching changes your mindset.
It’s All Because of Your Audience
When you teach, your audience will ask you questions. Some will have answers, some won’t. At first that’s intimidating, but the more you teach, the better you get at listening carefully to your audience. Some questions you “table” and don’t answer right away. But you hear them. And you keep thinking about them.
One presentation that I’m currently working on was inspired by a question that Hugo Kornelis brought up after a presentation I gave at the SQL PASS Summit in 2014. His comments really stuck with me. It’s a great question.
Questions and comments from your audience are gifts. They’re part of an ongoing conversation in your life about the topics you’re teaching. They become an important part of your work and your thinking.
Thinking about those questions as a teacher gives you an edge in solving all kinds of problems.
Get on Stage in 2016
You won’t get this chance to grow from sitting in the audience: you just don’t hear the questions in the same way.
When setting goals for next years, consider making the choice to begin teaching. It will be one of the best choices you make in your career.