I found my passion through educating my students. This passion is the opportunity I have every day to provide others with guidance, education, and a safe learning environment for all types of learners. I want to challenge them and be part of their achievements, and hopefully be considered a mentor in each of their lives. So how did I get here? Why did I become a skin care instructor? And what does it mean for me to mentor my students? All the answers to these questions are part of my journey, part of my passion for esthetics, and part of why I teach.
I started working in the treatment room, customizing treatments for my clients. In amazement, I was seeing the results I wanted—not only the transformations on my customers’ skin but also the impact on their lives. I will always remember a female client who was very skeptical about facials. After working on her skin, I started to notice a change in her confidence. She started to take care of herself, applying makeup, dressing up, smiling, and just being a happier person. I decided to ask my client how she felt about herself and whether or not she was still skeptical. Her response took me by surprise; she replied with a smile, “I’m happy thanks to you. You helped me understand my skin much better—how to take care of it and maintain it.” I was without words. I never thought I could influence and help another individual’s self-confidence and self-acceptance through something so simple. For me, this was more rewarding than receiving a paycheck or tips. My career became more than that; it started to have real meaning.
During the same time, I had the opportunity to work part-time as a representative for a cosmeceutical company, providing demonstrations and training for active accounts. Using their products as back bar, I got to know them really well. It was easy for me to talk about the products’ advantages and how to use them. I would go to schools, estheticians, and doctors to train them and help them increase revenue for their business.
Later, I was contacted by a former instructor of mine and asked if I would be interested in working full time as an instructor for my alma mater. It was an honor for me to know that I’d had made an impression on my instructor. But at the same time, I realized what a huge responsibility being an educator is. I decided to accept this responsibility and embrace the challenge. I remember preparing for my classes. In the beginning, I was a little anxious and I would not let go what I called my “security blanket”—the book from which I had to teach. But soon I discovered I need to bring my experiences to the education. Once I let go of that security blanket, I immediately saw an improvement in student motivation and participation.
I believe in four core qualities all instructors, educators, and trainers need to develop and follow to be able to impact and allow learning to happen. These four qualities were written and introduced by Marshall Brain. He is the author of ten books and is nationally recognized for his ability to communicate complex ideas. Mr. Brain formerly taught in the computer science department at North Carolina State University, where he was elected to the prestigious Academy of Outstanding Teachers for his work in the classroom. The qualities he mentions are: being an expert in your field; the skills to convey knowledge; the ability to make the material you are teaching interesting and relevant; and a deep-seated respect for the student. He explains these core qualities as follows:
- First is knowledge of the subject. You must be an expert in your field if you are going to be a good teacher. This is a prerequisite.
- The second core quality is the ability to communicate knowledge and expertise to students. You may be the greatest expert ever in your field, but what would happen if you lectured in Latin? How much would your students learn? A good teacher allows students to understand the material. A good teacher can explain complicated material in a way that students can understand and use. There is a saying, "Give me a fish and I eat for a day, teach me to fish, and I eat for a lifetime." This is the philosophy of a good teacher. Give your students an answer and they can solve one problem, but show students the techniques needed to find the answer for themselves and they can become self-sufficient in the field.
- The third core is going one step further: interest. Because good teachers are interested in the material being taught, they make the class interesting and relevant to the students. Knowledge is worthless unless the students care about it. But the effort expended making the material understandable is wasted if the students are asleep when it is delivered, or if the students can see no point in learning the material. Teachers recognize this and work hard to make their material relevant. They show students how the material will apply to their lives and their careers.
- The fourth is, good teachers have a deep-seated concern and respect for the students in the classroom. Why else would a teacher put in the time and effort needed to create a high-quality class? The creation of a good class requires an immense amount of work. You don't simply come up with clear explanations and examples and experiments for class off the top of your head. You don't create fair, consistent, high-quality tests and homework assignments five minutes before you hand them out. You don't figure out ways to integrate new materials and research into a class in an understandable way while driving to school. You work at this sort of quality all the time. You spend time with your students so you can learn about holes in their understanding. You read and write and create to build an exciting and interesting class every day. The only thing that would drive you to do that is a concern and respect for the adults in your classroom.
When I read that article, I find myself following each one of these core qualities without question, each and every day. I enjoy every minute, hour, and day I spend with my students. Being able to share my knowledge the same way my mentors shared their knowledge with me is very gratifying. My career is my passion. Through this passion, I enjoy every success my students achieve. —Diana Flores, ASCP Education Manager
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