Teacher Appreciation Week – A Conversation with Chris Badgett on the World of Online and Offline Education Honoring Teachers

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In this week’s LMScast Ali Mathis of the LifterLMS team discusses teacher appreciation week – a conversation with Chris Badgett on the world of online and offline education honoring teachers. Teacher Appreciation Week begins on Monday, May 6th and comes to a close on Friday, May 10th. At LifterLMS we are having special promotions for the week. In this episode Ali and Chris have a conversation about teachers and how important they are.

Chris talks about how he considers himself to be a reluctant teacher, meaning that he did not set out in his career to become a teacher or an entrepreneur. Teaching for Chris emerged in the outdoor leadership world while he was working in outdoor guiding.

In college Chris studied sociology, philosophy, and anthropology. He ended up with a major in anthropology and a minor in philosophy and sustainable development. Rather than taking a PE course, Chris enrolled in the National Outdoor Leadership School.

Being involved with the NOLS organization, Chris had the opportunity to fly to the middle of nowhere in Canada and participated in an outdoor leadership program in the middle of the woods. This program further solidified Chris’s love of the outdoors. He followed his passion with nature to Alaska, where he became a wilderness guide taking people into remote areas of Alaska and teaching them about how to travel and tour by sled dog.

Through teaching people how to work with sled dogs and later managing a company that trained new team members every year, Chris built out and engaged with his teaching skills by conveying information and coaching people on how to do all these things with equipment, procedures, and tools.

Teacher appreciation week - a conversation with Ali Mathis and Chris Badgett on the world of online and offline education honoring teachers

Ali and Chris talk about common challenges people face when teaching online and how that compares to teaching live. The largest obstacle Chris sees in online education is that feedback loops with learners are not as obvious as they are when teaching live.

You have the opportunity to get immediate feedback on whether or not someone is retaining information when you can look at them and ask them questions along the way to help them fill in the gaps in their understanding as you go. With online content as a course creator, you are tasked with pre-packaging content that can be understood and applied to get results.

With Chris’s experience with survival in the outdoors, he can relate to the immediate feedback you get when you do something incorrectly that can literally cost you your life. In the online environment, it becomes a lot harder to tell if what you are doing is working or not. In a similar way also hard to tell whether you should quit and try something else.

Chris’s first online course was how to create a perfect omelet every time. He speaks to his thought process when making this course and how he decided the topic and what he was looking to learn by creating the course.

Be sure listen to this week’s episode to learn more about insights from Chris and Ali on the teaching in the online space.

At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. You can subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!

Episode Transcript

Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined today by a very special repeat guest, Ali Mathis from the LifterLMS team. How’s it going, Ali?

Ali Mathis: Chris, good. How are you? I’m glad to be here again.

Chris Badgett: I’m doing great. It’s good to be back with you. What can we talk about today?

Ali Mathis: Well, here at LifterLMS, we’re celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week May 6th through May 10th, so if you’re listening to this podcast during that time, it is Teacher Appreciation Week. I thought you and I could have a conversation just in general about teachers and how important they are and sort of your thoughts and feelings about them in the spirit of Teacher Appreciation Week if that’s okay with you.

Chris Badgett: Sounds fantastic.

Ali Mathis: Okay. I’m going to start with a big question here. I consider you a teacher and I was just wondering if you consider yourself a teacher?

Chris Badgett: I do. I consider myself a reluctant teacher in that I never set out to be a teacher, I never set out to become an entrepreneur, I never set out to become an expert, I never set out to become somebody who builds community or email lists and all these types of things, but I realize I woke up one day and just kind of realized, “You know what? I am a teacher too.” For me, that kind of emerged in … Before the online business world, it emerged in the outdoor leadership world and the world of guiding. That’s where I learned how to teach or where I started learning how to teach.

Ali Mathis: Tell me a little bit more about your experiences in doing that. I think I know what they are, but I don’t know if our audience knows what they are and they’re pretty interesting.

Chris Badgett: In college, I went to college. I studied sociology, philosophy and got a major in anthropology. I also had a minor in philosophy and sustainable development. During that period, I didn’t want to just take a required PE course, so I enrolled in something called the National Outdoor Leadership School. I got myself on a plane and flew to the middle of nowhere in Canada and went on an outdoor leadership program for a month in the woods where there’s no trails or anything like that with a organization called NOLS.

Chris Badgett: Through that, I fell in love and before that, I had started rock climbing and hiking and stuff like that but I really fell in love with the outdoors. Fast forward, I followed that dream all the way into Alaska where I started becoming a wilderness guide and taking people out in remote areas of Alaska, teaching them about sled dogs, which is what I was at the time, a sled dog tour guide. This was like to survive in the wilderness. Through that and then later, I became a manager of that company and I had to train people all the time, every year. I did that for almost a decade and I had to train new team members, manage people who had been around for a while and everything. I had to learn how to convey information, teach and coach and mentor and do all these things.

Ali Mathis: Then, fast forward to today, I know you do a lot of teaching around WordPress and LifterLMS. You’ve done in person teaching and online teaching. What are some of the challenges specific to being an online teacher versus an in person teacher and what are some of the challenging aspects of being a teacher just in general?

Chris Badgett: Online, the biggest challenge is the feedback loops aren’t as obvious. One of the things that makes me lucky as an entrepreneur and as a teacher, I learned a lot of these basic skills in a wilderness environment and when you mess up out there, there’s really serious consequences that could literally cost you your life. In an online business or in a company that is, where the consequences of your actions are not directly coming back to bite you or maybe the feedback loop isn’t obvious, it becomes a lot harder to tell whether what you’re doing is working or not working or if you just need to keep going or if you should quit and stop and try something else.

Chris Badgett: The big challenge in the online world is really getting results through your people and operating in an environment where it may not be obvious right away if the teaching is going through effectively and then, the application or the applied learning of the teaching is working for the student. Because that’s harder to see and harder to tell what’s working, that’s the big challenge of online education.

Ali Mathis: How have you handled that challenge or what are some interesting … Because I know in addition to building your own online courses, you have taken many online courses and reviewed many of our customers online courses, what are some really good teaching methods that you’ve seen that address that challenge that you just mentioned?

Chris Badgett: I think the big thing is just a mindset shift from we all take about the information age and the knowledge economy and building an online business around what you know, but the truth is, is information is now a commodity and not very valuable. What we’re in the middle of is what I call the results revolution where people don’t really want information, they don’t really want to take courses, they really don’t want a monthly recurring fee to your membership. What they want is some kind of result or transformation in your life. If that’s what your course offers, whether it’s some kind of behavior change or to learn how to do something, require a skill or execute a complex process around whatever, you need to … When you can map that where people are getting the mini results on the way of the big results, that feedback becomes open and we can see when we’re making progress and not.

Chris Badgett: Progress is not just about students marking lessons as complete. It’s about getting results.

Ali Mathis: Diving into that a little bit more, what qualities do you think make a good teacher and online course and help you get results out of your students or maybe just what qualities do you think make a good teacher in general, in your experience as a student when you were younger or just as a student of life? What do you think about what qualities make a good teacher?

Chris Badgett: Well, first I think it’s oka … It’s not a one size fits all thing. There’s lots of different styles of teaching. There is the very direct heavy-handed drill sergeant style of teaching, like command and control. Think something like the military. But then, on the opposite end of the spectrum, there is a very zen teacher who is just there to serve and is almost invisible but just guides the students to go through the process of discovering information and applying it. More or less-

Ali Mathis: Which is your philosophy? I’m guessing it’s the second one.

Chris Badgett: I’m more into that end of the spectrum, but there’s many ways to do it. But both those styles of leadership and styles of teaching can be in service to results and not just the transfer of information.

Chris Badgett: I’m not saying that the transfer of information is not important, but different teachers have those different styles. Really what it comes down, and this can help you be a better teacher, can help you become a better marketer, it can help you become a better technology implementer, it can help you grow your email list and it can just help you do anything you really need to do with a course membership is when you understand the fundamental question that any student or learner asks, they’re asking themselves the question, “Will it work for me?”

Chris Badgett: If you know that, that’s really all you have to deliver on, but if you keep asking, “What do we need to know to figure out if it’s working,” we need to know if it was understood. Did you get the information? Did you apply the information? Once you applied it, did it work? Are you moving forward? Then, do we need to go through that again with a more complex scenario to develop that into more of a habit and a subconscious operating system. Really, just going, from taking the second step from information to results is really a key.

Chris Badgett: The mark of a good teacher these days, especially in the online world but also in the offline world has to do with application and applying the information to see if it’s actually working because that’s what the student wants. For example, college a lot of people, they want to learn around a certain expertise, but they also want to get a well-paying job or start a company in this field or whatever. That’s just as important as getting the information.

Chris Badgett: The teacher of tomorrow just has that complete perspective and they take responsibility for the results, not just the transfer or information.

Ali Mathis: Do you think, listening to what you said, that a good teacher also needs to be a coach as well?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Coaching is a type of feedback loop.

Ali Mathis: How does that outfit in like an online course sort of world?

Chris Badgett: A quiz is an example, canned test, did you get the information. That’s what a quiz tests for. But what a coach does is first of all, they help you figure out where you’re uniquely as an individual blocked and in terms of getting the information, asking the right questions but also applying what you’re learning to reality.

Chris Badgett: As an example, I have a background in rock climbing. I can create a course about how to rock climb and show you all the moves with your fingers and what to do and all these different safety things and all these different things. But if I was to give that somebody without actually getting out on the rock with them and showing them having some time, applying all this information together, that person taking that course would not be really learning rock climbing. They might become an expert in the subject and kind of become what we would call an armchair enthusiast, but to really get out there in the field, whatever that field is and get personalized help and feedback, that’s what a coach does.

Chris Badgett: A coach helps you apply it, it helps you find out where your holes are, what you’re missing. Also knowing that not everybody is the same and different people have different gaps. Coaches help fill the gaps. Information is more of blanket that just goes over everything.

Ali Mathis: How do you break that down and break that fourth wall or third wall in the online world and make sure that people are able to apply what they’re learning to real life experiences?

Chris Badgett: It comes back to a fundamental of teaching or curriculum or instructional design, where there is a part of our knowledge transfer … On the online world, we call that the content. Right? What are you saying in the video? What’s in the worksheet? What’s in the audio file? What are we teaching here?

Chris Badgett: But then it’s about getting your learner taking actions. It’s a whole other thing to be like, “All right, now that we know this, I’m going to spool up an assignment and I’m going to ask you to execute this, this and this and this, these steps. Go out and do this.” I’m like guiding you to apply the information. Then, I might have you submit a photo or an essay about what happened, what was your experience applying that information. Send me a picture of what happened or describe what actually happened when you applied it and tried to make it work for you. By the way, at the end of this week, we’re going to have a group coaching call, where we talk to any kind of blocks or issues you’re having as a group and where you’re stuck or what’s working, what’s not working. Then also, once a month, we’re going to get together for a private one on one session where I can do a deeper dive on you specifically as an individual.

Chris Badgett: Now, that’s a high value program. It’s no longer just a video-based version of a text book, it’s an immersive, interactive coaching program with the feedback loops open and the ability to act on those feedback laps with improvement and coaching.

Ali Mathis: Cool. Let’s talk about some courses that you’ve made in the past few years. I think you told me, if I’m remembering correctly, that your first course ever was maybe not how to fry an egg but how to make a perfect omelet. Am I remembering right?

Chris Badgett: That’s right.

Ali Mathis: Okay.

Chris Badgett: I call it the poet omelet method, perfect omelets every time.

Ali Mathis: I don’t even know how many courses you’ve made. But you’ve made a lot of different courses over the years, what are some of your favorite courses that you’ve made and how have you evolved as a teacher and as an online teacher since your first omelet making courses to your most recent courses?

Chris Badgett: My first omelet making course was really just to prove that I could do it and there’s a lot of things that go into making a course. I’m not an internationally known chef, right? But I can still teach somebody how to make a good omelet. Just doing that and making yourself public about how to do that and just making all the technology happen. That’s when the first course was all about.

Chris Badgett: Then later, I got into more of the entrepreneur mindset, the publishing mindset where I would partner with experts in an organic gardening and permaculture niche. I would go film their workshops and I was making the courses happen but I was more just a publisher in a way, like a book publisher publishes the authors books.

Ali Mathis: Okay.

Chris Badgett: I wasn’t the expert myself and I learned a tremendous amount doing that because I was watching top people in the field perform these workshops and I was watching how they would coach and help and take questions and explain complex subjects to really passionate but beginner audiences.

Chris Badgett: I learned a lot there. Later in the technology space, I mean at this point, it’s probably somewhere around 20,000 people have in some way seen some of my WordPress tutorial courses.

Ali Mathis: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Or content parts out of those and that has been really incredible learning experience. Just the questions that come in or where people get stuck, you just learn a lot and what’s behind me right now, you’re probably listening this on audio, but if you’re watching this on video, you can find this over on the LifterLMS YouTube channel. I’m literally right here behind me mapping out the journey that course creators go through from the very beginning all the way out to it working and going well based on all these years of experience doing it myself, working with other people, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t.

Chris Badgett: This is what I’m most excited about because there’s a lot of people that want to make this happen and there’s a lot of really partial information out there and also, good information but a lack of coaching, mentoring, guidance, social learning components and things that can support this journey because this is one of those things similar to the outdoors where it’s an expedition.

Chris Badgett: If you decide you want to write a book or become an author, that’s a big expedition. I would argue that course creation is like that, but at a whole other level. It’s a big commitment in terms of time, money and just your creative energy life force and focus. This is what I’m most excited about now is helping solve this problem for course creators specifically.

Ali Mathis: You’re working on a course to teach people how to make courses?

Chris Badgett: Basically, yeah.

Ali Mathis: Is that your current project? Do you have any other courses that are in the works? I know you usually are doing multiple projects at the same time.

Chris Badgett: Not right now. For me, I am a course creator but like many other course creators, it’s a side hustle.

Ali Mathis: Right.

Chris Badgett: Most of the time, I am a software company Founder and a Marketer, CEO. I have just like a lot of people, which is, I think, good is because I can relate. I’m having to create all this in a very small wedge of time. That’s what’s really important to teachers out there that want to do these types of things is it’s like having a baby. There’s never going to be a perfect time in your schedule. If you don’t want to waste time many you don’t want to end up down some rabbit hole that prevents the process from happening, I’m just super committed to helping people get unstuck because we see people at Lifter that where they try or it doesn’t work out and they get totally sidetracked or they get some bad advice and I just want to map the process in a proven way and experiment on myself and with other people to show how it works.

Ali Mathis: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I’m super excited about it.

Ali Mathis: How long do you think it will take you to complete that course?

Chris Badgett: It’s a great question because it’s not even going to take me that long to complete. What I believe is the course launch is not the finish line, it’s the starting line. The main thing for me in terms of completing the first iteration of coming up with the core offer, the core methodology, I will not create all this content before going live. I will create the methodology, make sure that’s rock solid, test it on myself and then, I will bring a small group of people through the process in a more alive way. That will be the first version of it and to do that as a side hustle for me, maybe all in all, that’s a couple of months worth of work to prepare for.

Ali Mathis: It’s like, what’s the formula we talked about? The [inaudible 00:20:06]. You make an estimate, then you double it.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah, maybe.

Ali Mathis: Or triple it.

Chris Badgett: This is also, I just want to add, a more … This is harder because making omelets is very …

Ali Mathis: Right.

Chris Badgett: It’s more of simple, but this is more of what we would call like a signature course.

Ali Mathis: Of course, yeah.

Chris Badgett: It’s just more in depth, which makes it more challenging. Not all courses are the same in terms of complexity of what’s required.

Ali Mathis: Yeah, absolutely. Have you read any great books about teaching or even course creation that you would recommend to our audience if they’re thinking about going into this field that they might want to check out as good resources?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, I really liked Julie Dirksen’s book. I’ll just pull off a little note from her book. The book is called Design for How People Learn. She talks a lot about how to teach effectively and she talks about the different gaps that people have between where they want to … To get where they want to go, which is really the function of learning. Knowledge is one of those or information, but there’s also procedures, skills, habits, motivation and environment.

Chris Badgett: I just think that one idea alone from her book is really powerful. If we’re going to help people make better omelets or build online education companies or become a less stressed out healthy parent, whatever it is, people don’t just need knowledge. They need to know certain types of procedures to do in certain situations, they need to develop certain skills, they need to create habits to reinforce whatever it is they’re trying to accomplish, they need to stay motivated and they need to actually change their environment. Like I’m talking to you now from my home office that I’ve literally designed from scratch to contribute to my efficiency and productivity.

Ali Mathis: Right.

Chris Badgett: Environment design is just as important as knowledge. [crosstalk 00:22:13].

Ali Mathis: She could’ve made a class on building a home office during that process because it was so interesting to see just from an outside perspective. That’s a whole another topic, but yeah.

Chris Badgett: I have. I did think about that and I could still do that. I did actually catalog it pretty good with photography, so that if I ever did want to come back and make a course about it, that I had the raw materials.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. I think that would be interesting. I think that would be interesting.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Ali Mathis: To close it out, let’s pull it back a little bit and look at the big picture about teachers because I think teachers are so important to our society. I’ve worked with many teachers, I’ve seen amazing teachers that I’ve had, my kids have had great teachers.

Ali Mathis: When you were a student, what were your favorite experiences as a student and how do you think that has impacted your life as an adult and do you have any memories of a favorite teacher from your early education or your secondary education that shaped your life in any kind of positive way?

Chris Badgett: Yeah. I had a really good second grade teacher. Her name was Ms. Joachim, I believe, but she just let me kind of be myself.

Ali Mathis: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: She just encouraged creativity whereas I’ve had other teachers who they were pretty rigid, maybe they were more of that drill sergeant type and it’s like, “This is how we do it, there’s not room [inaudible 00:23:49], stay in your seat, be quiet,” whatever. That was a good one.

Chris Badgett: If we go back to the National Outdoor Leadership School, I had a lot of great outdoor instructors. Super passionate, still am about the outdoors for conservation, for recreation and just fun. When you really find your tribe of people and you meet leaders in that space, whatever it is, for me that had to do with out door leadership and recreation conservation. It’s amazing and the results, when you combine … There’s this concept of where you have extrinsic or intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic means I have to take this thing. Intrinsic means I’m here because I want to be here and it’s totally different.

Chris Badgett: My big thing with teachers is when you’re working from a place of the student is motivated, not that they just have to be there, there’s so much more you can do and it’s so much more fun for everybody.

Ali Mathis: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Those are a couple people and situations in my life where I had really great teachers. I also would say that the job description of teachers are expanding.

Ali Mathis: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: The word teacher, coach, mentor, manager, even parent or friend, we’re all teaching. Learning is a part of being human and even the way our brains are designed with the mirror neurons behaviors and the way babies copy each other and everything, learning is literally everywhere. It’s one of the things that make us … It’s one of the top five things that makes us human. It’s just a very important part of society in general and it takes many forms and both in our traditional institutions but also just in regular every day life.

Ali Mathis: Do you think that society as a whole or maybe not global society, maybe just society in the United States, honors and appreciates teachers enough? Or do you think there are some societies where teachers are appreciated more than others or?

Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that’s a really big question.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. I mean, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to that. I was just curious about your opinion.

Chris Badgett: One of the things I love where … There’s lots of research and history done on power dynamics. One of my favorite situations in admiring a teacher is when the student outshines the master. That’s a big no-no in power dynamics and for example, corporate politics or social engineering if you’re trying to play by the rules. But what you’ll inevitably notice in the very best teachers and coaches, they couldn’t be more thrilled than when the student outshines the master and sure, maybe they take a ego hit of at first, maybe it’s uncomfortable for the teacher, but I think that’s a really, really special thing.

Ali Mathis: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: But as a society as a whole, what people … I take it back to results and what’s working. It really depends on the context of where the education is happening and what the incentives are and what the politics are behind it as to whether that teacher is rewarded or not. Just to give a really specific example, if I’m a manager in a company and that company is let’s say in some kind of financial space and I literally, the amount of my bonus is related to how effective the people that I’m managing are at executing their job, which is making money or trading or something like that. Those people are rewarded handsomely because it’s a whole incentivized around the money.

Chris Badgett: The issue where it breaks down as a society, not everybody values the same things.

Ali Mathis: Right.

Chris Badgett: If we’re looking at like I have a liberal arts education traditionally, which is harder to trace the effectiveness of that to me getting a job and building a career for myself. However, that liberal arts time, all that time spent in anthropology, social science, traveling to third-world countries, figuring out how people work has been the most important thing that makes me an effective marketing or sales person. But not everybody who decides how liberal arts teachers or the teachers that teach the student before they even get the higher education get paid, value the same things.

Ali Mathis: Right.

Chris Badgett: It’s a complicated milieu. Yeah, it just really depends.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. Cool. Well, thank you so much for talking with me about your experience teaching and with teachers. As I mentioned, if you’re listening to this between May 6th and May 10th, we’re honoring teachers and have some special stuff going on around Teacher Appreciation Week and you can head on over to our blog to read about it. That’s all my questions for you today, Chris.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks for having me, Ali.

Ali Mathis: Yeah. Thank you.

Chris Badgett: That’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling and protecting, engaging online courses to help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life. Head on over to lifterlms.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.

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