Teaching is a leadership skill

4-H is a great space to learn how to teach others.

4-H volunteer, Allison Miller, teaches a 4-H PEP student a new craft. Photo by Connie Lange, MSU Extension.
4-H volunteer, Allison Miller, teaches a 4-H PEP student a new craft. Photo by Connie Lange, MSU Extension.

Teaching others is a great way to practice leadership as well as learn more about your content area. Practicing your leadership skills with Michigan 4-H can lead to confidence in yourself and opportunities to learn more.

An easy way to start learning leadership, or to add to the skills you already have, is to teach something to others. In 4-H, there are many opportunities for this since so much of 4-H is about learning a skill or project. Once you have learned something, you can start teaching others. Here are some tips to help you get started.

  • Teach your passion. What is your favorite 4-H project? Think back to when you first started and remember the spark that got you so interested. How can you share that interest and mastery with someone else? Even if you feel confident in your skills and knowledge, teaching someone else will force you to dig deeper. You may learn more in the process, too.
  • Teach something new. What did you just learn? Did you go to a workshop to learn a new skill, or hear a guest speaker that inspired you? You can help spread that enthusiasm to others. Teaching to others may seem intimidating at first, but if you think of it as learning together, it can be fun and rewarding for everyone.
  • Teach someone younger than you. Do you have younger members in your club you can help? Could you set up an event for younger kids to get them excited about your project area? Teaching someone younger may help you boil down your subject area to a basic level, so you are not overwhelming them with details. An added bonus may be more members in your project area.
  • Teach someone older than you. Are there adults helping with your club that don’t know as much about your project area? Could you set up an event with a local senior center to teach older citizens something about what you love? Interacting with a different generation will help you learn how to explain yourself in various ways, and seniors often love having a chance to interact and learn from you.

Teaching is a skill like riding a bike. It may feel awkward at first, but if you practice and aren’t afraid to try new things, you can open up a new avenue of leadership. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from your students, as that will be the best way to improve.

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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