Yesterday, I blogged about some ways firearms instructors show they feel responsibility to their students. Today, I’d like to point out that the best teachers know what to do when they hit their own limitations.
First, don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Good teachers take students’ questions seriously enough that they consciously avoid giving flippant or incomplete answers. Instead of throwing out a half-baked response, try saying, “I’m not sure. Let me do some research and get back to you.” Of course, you then follow up by doing the research and getting back to them, because you don’t want your students to have unanswered questions about such an important topic.
Second, it will sometimes happen that even after you’ve done that homework, the best answer you can honestly give is, “I cannot answer that question very well myself.” That’s not ideal, but it happens. Be honest enough to admit it. Then add, “Let me suggest some other resources for you to try.” You do not have to be — and you should not try to be! — the source of all learning for your students. When you realize that you’re not the best source of information for something your students need to know, you don’t have to fake knowledge you don’t have. You can simply guide them to a better source of information and drive on.
The strongest teachers boldly admit their weaknesses.