Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

A Blog for Teachers
by Mary Jean Powers

To Learn Is to Teach Is to Learn

Jul 27, 2020

“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
Phil Collins

It doesn’t take much teaching experience to realize that, on any given day, you will learn more than your students! Teaching is one of those service-oriented professions in which the teacher must be “on” 100% of the time. Every minute requires focus and the ability to simultaneously process the process! These skills cannot be learned in a day … or a year. However, we can confidently hope for improvement if we as teachers aim to move just a bit further along the teaching/learning continuum every day.

We also know that learning does not come full circle until the student can turn around and teach someone else what they have learned. The student has not thoroughly learned until they have, in some way, made the lesson their own.  To educate is not merely to cram information into their heads, but to facilitate a process that creates curiosity and discovery while drawing out questions and guiding conclusions.

To teach is to learn; to learn is to teach.


One of the Hebrew words for “teach” is lamad; it means “to goad” … yes, as in cattle! When we goad our students, we cause them to learn; we prod them. Teaching and learning are attained through a great variety of goading methods such as creating memorable events, using ingenious techniques, asking provocative questions, and inventing unconventional lessons. Additionally, teachers can just as easily goad with love and patience, and through offering simple, heart-felt words of encouragement, comfort or affirmation. Regardless of the methods we use to goad our students, goading can be hard work! But what a reward when the lights go on and they get it! We can see it sparkle in their eyes! It clicked. It made sense. And some days, that’s all it takes for us to keep going – to continue to teach with joy and vision for new possibilities!

I have determined to be a life-long learner who teaches what she has learned. If I haven’t learned it myself, how can I expect to teach it well? How can I expect my students to get excited it if I’m not excited? There is always something new to read, to study, to rehearse, to create (or re-create) or to apply. For me, the joy of teaching is sustained through learning – constantly learning new ways to present the lesson I’ve taught one hundred times, or a new story that I practice telling until it effectively illustrates the lesson from a new angle.

Remember: we cannot teach our students everything they need to know, and we will not get it right every time for every student. But what we can do is creatively move them further along the learning continuum each day. And, by setting ourselves up as teachable teachers, we can move further along that continuum every day, as well. What a fantastic opportunity to become the teachers we have been created to be, while enjoying the process!

How have you recently moved along the teacher/learner continuum? What do you want to learn about teaching, and what is your plan for learning it? Is there content that you are teaching even though you don’t grasp it well enough to effectively give it away? If so, what are you going to do about that? Strategize to learn!

About Keep Calm and Shoot Straight

I am a teacher. You, too? I hope you love the profession as much as I do! I was 16 when I got my first teaching gigs – I had 20 private piano students and a Sunday School class of 4 and 5-year olds! At that point in my “career,” my definition of teacher was very limited. But now – after 45+ years of experience – I have come to realize that teacher can mean many different things. I’d like to share some of those insights with you! My posts will range from quotes to prayers, from cartoons to words of wisdom. Much of my teaching experience has been international, so you'll get to watch some video stories from around the globe. Jesus is the best Teacher I know, so I will be including Him in this blog, as well. I hope my thoughts and my story will encourage, provoke, and inspire you to become the teacher you’ve been created to be!

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Mary Jean Powers

Mary Jean Powers

B.A. in Christian Education
M.A. in Biblical Studies
Music teacher (band and choir director, private instruction) for 35 years
International Bible teacher for 17+ years
Certified Walk Thru the Bible instructor
Certified TESL International Instructor
CEU Provider for ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International)
Certified Life Coach and Chaplain

Who am I? A teacher coming alongside teachers!