How to Teach Your Knowledge to Others

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At some point as a social change leader, you probably realized you needed some help.

Maybe you started hiring a team of staff or contractors or you started being more intentional about reaching out to the team you already have.

It took a lot of effort to ask, and people were excited at first, but things didn’t quite go as planned.

Eventually, rather than feeling relieved, you went from one overwhelmed person to a team of overwhelmed people.

Somehow more people led to more work instead of less.

Why to Package Your Knowledge

The good news is that it’s never too late to try a new approach.

If you find yourself thinking things like,

“I try to tell them…”

“They just don’t get it…”

“I wish they would…”

These are all signs that it might be time to build a curriculum around your knowledge.

Something I often hear from leaders is, “I want them to figure it out!”

Of course you want them to be the problem-solver. You can’t control every aspect of other people’s behavior (nor would you want to!)

But if they are overwhelmed and neither of you are satisfied, then it might be time to find another solution.

An Elementary Lesson

My third-grade teacher Mrs. Healy taught me an invaluable lesson about sharing knowledge by switching roles between her and her students.

One day she stood behind a table in front of the class. On it was everything she needed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Then she asked us to tell her how to make it.

“Put the peanut butter on the bread!” one classmate shouted.

She acted out our instructions as literally as possible and proceeded to put the entire jar of closed peanut butter directly on top of the packaged loaf of bread.

“No!” the class cried out. “You need to open the jar first!”

It continued like this for a while, but through trial and error our class learned that to accomplish our goal we had to communicate our expectations as clearly and explicitly as possible.

And the lesson stuck with me even as an adult.

Chunking Isn’t Just for Peanut Butter

Simply outlining steps in a process alone isn’t enough to get buy-in, but it is a necessary step that a lot of leaders skip.

They provide advice (solicited or unsolicited) and when that doesn’t work they provide an info dump in the form of books, articles, or invites to other events and speakers.

What is missing is breaking down the specific action that might generate the desired results and creating opportunities for practice and feedback.

Learning scientists like Barbara Oakley, author of Learning How to Learn, call this “chunking” and say it is essential to learning any new skill.

Social change leaders who want their team to pose questions around self-interest in their one-to-ones or update the database when members engage in new ways might need to “chunk” the skill that will help overcome a particular challenge and create spaces for practice and learning.

Putting it All Together

If you are reading this and feeling like, “I’m already overwhelmed, how am I going to get time to do this?!”

Recall from the peanut butter and jelly example that it was a team of third-graders who, working together, came up with a step-by-step recipe for success.

You can (and should) engage your colleagues in coming up with a solution that will help you multiply your results.

Or if you want to explore how we might help you turn your social change knowledge into a powerful curriculum that gets results, click the button below to schedule a free consultation.

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Riahl Hey, folks! Thank you so much for joining us. My name is Riahl O’Malley. I use he/him pronouns. I’m with Learning to Transform, and

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