I waited with excited anticipation to visit a new restaurant in town. You know the one—the restaurant that everyone was talking about, but that’s a little pricey. One by one, I listened to colleagues make plans to go to dinner at the restaurant. I could actually taste the entrees in my head as they described the menu. I daydreamed about my trip to the restaurant. When would it be? What would I wear? (My husband has gotten used to the notion that dining out for me is always a great opportunity to dress up.) What would I eat?
Finally it was my turn. My husband announced that he had organized an evening with friends and made reservations at the restaurant. I knew I was in for a fine dining experience. I already knew what I was going to order. My expectations swelled as we were seated – the ambiance alone was a prelude of what was to come.
As we began the second course, the unthinkable happened. Our friend summoned the waiter and proceeded to complain about his dish. My heart sank, color drained from my face, I couldn’t breathe. How could he complain about his mashed potatoes and insist his dish be taken back to the kitchen? I was so embarrassed.
But then I realized the value he brought to this establishment. After all, he had expectations, and they were not met. He was providing an opportunity to raise the quality and standards for the restaurant. What was wrong with expressing his honest opinion?
The fact is, nothing was wrong with it, and we all should be comfortable and open with providing honest feedback when we have an experience that does not meet our expectations. I then realized that can relate to real estate education.
How many times do you leave a class disappointed? How many classes do you attend only because you need to renew your license and have no expectation of learning? In fact, how many classes do you attend with the silent hope that you will get through class without napping?
When it came time to fill out the class and instructor evaluation, you probably quickly checked off excellent or good. After all, you really weren’t there to learn or fine-tune a skill set based on previous classes you have attended during your career in real estate. What was the point?
The point is, we can only elevate real estate education if we all do our part. A real estate school should offer classes that are relevant, up-to-date and appropriate to your experience and skill level. A real estate school should hire instructors who have the necessary skills to stimulate your desire to learn, engage you during the class and teach relevant material. The instructor should have a mastery of adult learning principles and curriculum design skills.
In the book “Telling Ain’t Training,” four key principles of adult instruction are summarized as:
• Readiness: Training must clearly address learners’ needs so that they will be ready to learn.
• Experience: Training must respect and build on the life experience learners bring to the learning session.
• Autonomy: Training must invite learners to participate in shaping the direction, content and activities of the learning experience.
• Action: The connection between the training and the application of what is learned must be clear.
When was the last time you were in a class with an instructor who involved the learners in the learning process through planned activities? Used a variety of teaching methods? Taught to all participants, not just those who showed interest? Presented key points by using examples as illustrations?
When was the last time you attended a class that you knew exactly what the learning objectives of the course were? When you left the class feeling you learned something that you could apply to your business, that would enhance your skills, that would help manage your risk?
Before you attend another class, take a few minutes to identify what you want to learn and find the class that will deliver. You have an opportunity to elevate the standards of real estate education in Arizona. You have the right to demand relevant content and delivery that stimulates your interest. You have a duty to yourself to attend classes that meet your expectations and that you freely want to attend because you see the value in the class. And you have an obligation to provide honest feedback to the instructor and school whether the class falls short or exceeds your expectations.
In the coming months, I will be telling you more about AAR’s new Course Certification program, which is designed to raise the real estate education standards for real estate professionals in Arizona.
In the meantime, don’t be afraid to send the dish back to the kitchen.