Learning through teaching

I am not sure ‘teach’ is the right word, probably it should be skills sharing but anyway let’s call it teaching for ease. I was keen to talk about how teaching others has helped to improve my own skills and understanding.  Since I discovered the magic of Tableau and then went on to implement Tableau in my organisation, part of the journey was getting my team trained.

After purchasing my first Tableau desktop license I had a little bit of training to get me started but then went on to teach myself. I then built the first dashboards for our pilot site which all worked and did the job they were intended to do so I felt pretty confident I could teach my team how to use Tableau desktop. Despite coming from a family of educators I wouldn’t say I am a natural teacher but I did my best to get everyone going with Tableau.

I created a small syllabus of things that the team needed to get them started and we blocked out Wednesday mornings for sessions. The team quickly picked up the skills they needed, and started to teach themselves, helping each other learn new tricks and use Google for the rest. Just after implementing Tableau I went off on maternity leave for 8 months so left them to it! On my return Tableau was firmly embedded in the team and their skills had rocketed, leaving me to catch up. We then all topped up our Tableau skills with some formal training through Interworks which really helped us to push further on with our dashboard developments for the organisation. 

The internal introduction to Tableau followed up by formal training once people have got to grips with the basics seems to work well, so we have continued in this way for the last few years. I have continued to teach my new staff and colleagues the basics of Tableau ever since. I passed my Tableau Desktop Associate Certification last September and although I had been using Tableau for a few years I had to do a lot of revision to get me through it. There was lots of functionality in Tableau that I simply hadn’t ever used, and I was also doing things in Tableau but didn’t necessarily know why.  I am definitely no Tableau Zen master by any stretch of the imagination and actually through training some of my team again I realised I was still doing stuff in Tableau with results but couldn’t explain why! So I have been trying to make sure I do understand what I am doing so that when I show others I can explain why, and encourage them to understand why certain actions result in certain outputs. Therefore learning through teaching!

I have implemented a Tableau competency framework within our organisation for people who are responsible for building dashboards. This framework is based on Fi Gordon’s Tableau Quest (thanks Fi – https://www.vizchic.com/tableauquest/). I have named one of the challenges ‘train the dragon’ which basically requires them to present/train a specific Tableau functionality to others. On a mission currently to encourage my team to take on this element of the framework so their skills continue to grow.

I have also started running workshops on Agile project management this year, and so far have run two workshops with another couple planned in September and October. Again I am no Agile project management expert, and I have no certificates to back up my skills. But what I do have is a few years under my belt using Agile project management within my team and seeing my team use it with good results. The external courses some of my team have attended recently had been poor (all theory and no practical!) so I thought I would try do this myself with help from my colleague Lucy based on our experience and knowledge. The workshops have gone pretty well, with positive feedback and people putting their learning into practice since; which is great! As I said I am no Agile project management guru, but by having to teach some of the theory it has forced me to really understand the theories and methodologies that underpin Agile. After each workshop we have run I have come away more confident about using Agile within the organisation and our team, simply by actually understanding it more through teaching others.

I would encourage everyone to ‘teach’! It will make you more confident in your own ability; you know more than you think you do! You will learn why, because when you share your skills with others they will ask ‘why?’, and you need to know the answer or be able to find out (even if it’s together!). It doesn’t matter how big or small, it doesn’t need to be a whole workshop or a full training session just start sharing what you do know!

Hope you enjoyed reading my blog!

3 thoughts on “Learning through teaching

  1. Thought the blog is fab. Thanks Ella. So jealous that yr organisation are so forward in their team building and protecting time as a group to develop together. Tableau not likely to be used in MFT so I can only look on with envy 😒

    Liked by 1 person

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