We live in amazing times. Knowledge and information are available to us in ways we could not have imagined even ten years ago.

Education and health care are the fastest growing sectors of our economy. This speaks to a very basic human need to learn, grow and explore our world. We are by nature curious and inquisitive creatures.

If you are like me, you probably get offers every day in your inbox to take a course, buy an information product, get some coaching or go on a retreat that promises to change your life for the better.

With everyone and their mother jumping on the “edu-medical” bandwagon, how do you choose a great teacher who will give you an excellent return on your time, money and attention? Unfortunately, certifications and qualifications do not always mean all they should.

Here are my top five suggestions to find a teacher who really knows their stuff and can take you on the amazing journey of acquiring new knowledge and skills.

1.    Do they listen?

 If you are having a conversation with a potential teacher pay close attention to how well they listen to you. When you ask them questions, do they answer carefully based on the information you have shared with them?  Do they want to find out about you, your goals, your interests? The more they know about you and listen to you, the better they will be able to serve you.

If you are looking at an online course, book or information product you can still apply this advice. How much time does your potential teacher spend talking about you and your situation in their copy? How much time do they spend talking about themselves?You want the majority of their pitch to be about how they can be of service to you because that is their job.

2.    Do they break things down?

The more mastery someone possesses in any given field, the more they should be able to teach you the basics of a topic in a simple and step-by-step manner.

I recently took a beginner ballet class but the first class was full of complicated sequences and routines. What I really needed was someone who took the time to break things down, teach me the basic movements and build it up from there.

You want a teacher who presents ideas to you in a way that allows you to experience success and accomplishment right from the beginning.

3.    Do you want to be them when you grow up?

 Choose teachers with qualities you admire. Choose to study with people who have qualities you aspire to. Give yourself the gift of role models and mentors. Watching others is an easy and inspiring way to grow and develop ourselves and our lives.Choose teachers who inspire you.

4.    Do they support you?

 If you are learning, stretching and growing you will inevitably experience frustration and make mistakes. This is an important part of any learning process. Choose teachers who support and encourage you, who trust in your abilities and talents.

The best teachers confidently hold a vision of you accomplishing your goals. They have the skills and empathy to support you as you leap into the gap between where you are now and what you would like to accomplish. Find teachers who can offer the kind of support that best suits you.

5.    Do your homework!

 Take your time and do your research about your teachers. “Certified” does not have to mean anything beyond someone printing off a certification. Ask your teacher questions and check out their credentials. These days, you should be able to verify someone’s education and credentials in a simple Google search.

Furthermore, find out WHY your teacher does what they do. See if their values line up with yours. Check out their Twitter and Facebook pages and see how they represent themselves. If you have a chance to talk to a potential teacher, ask them about their approach, their philosophy and point of view and listen carefully.  Check out testimonials or get references. Remember, you are making an investment of time, money, trust and attention and you deserve to make sure you are investing wisely.

 Finding a great teacher can be dramatic and change the course of your life, or it can enhance your every day in those little ways that make life so much more pleasant and joyful. With so much choice on offer, it definetley pays to be an informed and careful consumer of educational products and services.

If you have any tips of your own on how to find a great teacher. Please leave a comment below or. If you have any teachers you recommend, I would love to hear about them and why you love them.

Happy learning and growing!