Before I succeeded John David Mann in 2006 as editor in chief of Networking Times, I had been a middle school teacher for five years. I never planned for this, but the universe brought me the job on a silver platter: while on sabbatical, I was approached by one of the highest endowed private schools in Los Angeles to teach French and Latin. After a couple of years in the language department I also took on Human Development, a fancy name for sex and drugs education.

When I started teaching, I had no clue what I was doing. Armed with my Ph.D., I knew my subject inside and out... but I had zero training in pedagogical methods.

How do you teach a dead language (Latin) to seventh graders? How do you even get them to listen to you? To shorten my learning curve, I observed veteran teachers from the back of their classrooms, which was tremendously helpful. Next, I put aside all my academic training and just used common sense. I approached my adorable middle schoolers (many were children of Hollywood celebrities) as I would any other relationship: I looked them in the eye, curiously asked them a couple of questions, and told them a little about myself. We found some common ground, expressed our mutual needs, and agreed on some expectations.

My brief teaching stint turned out to be extremely useful. After ten years of academic research with minimal people interaction, no other job could have better prepared me for my next assignment—running an educational business journal.

Here are some things I learned:

Fortunately my students were bright and after developing some mutual understanding, we did great work together. Many went on to top universities and one of them (as far as I know) even founded his own school.

“How did you become an effective teacher?” is the question we ask network marketing leaders in this issue. If you understand the importance of teaching and how it directly relates to duplication and residual income, you will love their answers.

DR. JOSEPHINE GROSS is cofounder and editor in chief of Networking Times.

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