By Jonel Thames Leake, CPCU, ASLI, AAI, CPIW, DAE, CLP
Due to the generous support of the Legacy foundation and the hard work of our education director, Region I recently received two grants to offer some virtual classes. To support our region, I volunteered to lead a few of the sessions. I didn’t expect to get much out of it beyond the satisfaction of helping our region succeed. But I was wrong. Teaching is turning out to be a valuable learning experience for me!
Teaching is allowing me to reinforce the material I had already learned when I took the class. As the instructor I am focused on really understanding the material instead of just trying to pass the test. Because different people comprehend material differently, I want to be able to have different examples or ways of explaining the material. This is deepening my personal understanding.
Teaching gives me an opportunity to work on my communication skills. As I mentioned before, different people learn differently, and I need to be aware of how I communicate the course material. With students across the country and in various fields of insurance, I must check and make sure they understand what I mean instead of assuming that they understand what this ‘Mainer’ who specializes in commercial lines is talking about.
It has been several years since I have put on my teacher hat and, truth be told, I was never confident in my ability to teach. Volunteering to instruct a CLP course was out of my comfort zone. I am finding that, with each course I complete, my confidence is growing. I am also enjoying the process more each time. This will be a good reminder the next time I want to try something I am not comfortable with. I can do difficult things.
Many of the skills I use in teaching a CLP course are skills that I use in a leadership role. I need to be focused on the topic and task at hand so that the students find class to be a valuable experience. I need to be a good listener, so I know what the students need, and I need to show respect and be empathetic. As I use and hone those skills during virtual classes, I will improve as a leader.
Finally, the biggest benefit to me are the connections that I have made across the country. With virtual classes, attendees can be virtually anywhere, and I have had students from Hawaii, California, Maryland and more! Some students have signed up for more than one class and I am always excited to see them. We have made plans to meet in person at the upcoming 2023 International Convention. The connections I have made as an IAIP member has always been my most valuable benefit and I am happy to have another avenue to make them.
If you have ever considered teaching an IAIP class, I urge you to accept the challenge. If you are like me, you will end up learning more than you expect.
Jonel Thames Leake, CPCU, ASLI, AAI, CPIW, DAE, CLP is the current Region 1 Vice President. You can find her in the online community and teaching virtual CLP courses. She is currently working on her CLP-A designation.