This year’s CIEP conference was held online, from 12 to 14 September. Attendees from all over the world logged on to learn and socialise with their fellow editors and proofreaders, and a number of delegates kindly volunteered to write up the sessions for us. Sheila Korol reviewed The editing educator: What you need to know about teaching editors, presented by Erin Brenner.
Feedback, kindness, and humility were just a few of the keywords that stood out in Erin Brenner’s session on what you need to know about teaching editors.
Having started her own business, Right Touch Editing, in 2005, Erin has been training other editors since 2012. So, speaking from ample first-hand experience, she presented on how teaching can lead to both more income and a deeper understanding of our own editing craft through building relationships with students.
Who’s the best editing instructor?
The first part of Erin’s session addressed knowing whether we’re ready to teach. Since editing takes time to learn, her advice was that editors should have at least two to three years of solid experience first in order to consolidate their understanding of editing procedures, tools, and publishing processes.
Since public speaking is also likely to be a skill we don’t use much in our editing lives, Erin advised on ways to gain experience and confidence in this area. This might be through recording and reviewing your presentation style, joining a group like Toastmasters, or giving short and free talks to small local groups.
A point Erin stressed early on was what she viewed as the ‘right traits’ helpful to both editing and teaching. These include:
- Humility: accepting we will never be perfect and we will make mistakes
- Kindness and patience: giving our students time and space to struggle and learn
- Firmness: setting deadlines and teaching students to be accountable
- Open-mindedness: accepting that multiple solutions exist and recognising all good work.
How do we teach?
In the second part of her session, Erin explained the importance of editors knowing not only the right content to share with students but also the means of elaborating on and organising information in a way that will help students better retain knowledge in their long-term memory. Some of the key techniques she shared for accomplishing this knowledge transfer include:
- Low-stakes testing: breaking down knowledge into frequent, smaller tasks such as quizzes, skills practice, and participation to reduce student anxiety
- Modelling: anonymously sharing both right and wrong work produced in the class
- Giving detailed feedback: identifying and explaining problems and how to solve them
- Praising: always encouraging, motivating, and building students’ confidence by frequently pointing out their correct answers.
Where to find teaching opportunities?
Compared to a few decades ago when few options existed, editors today have a multitude of teaching opportunities through several different teaching platforms, timelines, and institutions. Teaching turnover tends to be high in many regular programmes, so the demand is certainly there for interested editors. Places to look for work include colleges and universities, professional training programmes, and editing organisations. Other ideas include searching job boards, cold-calling editing programmes, or networking with instructors. Additionally, more and more editors are now creating and marketing their own individual programmes. It’s worth noting, too, that editors can always reach out to a wider range of language-related fields such as communications, journalism, and marketing.
Overall, if you’re an editor thinking of branching out into teaching, Erin’s presentation was filled with thoughtful and practical ideas to start you on your way.
Sheila Korol is from Canada and an Intermediate Member of the CIEP. An experienced English literature teacher, she lives in Hong Kong where she has set up shop as a freelance proofreader and copyeditor for independent authors, academics, and educational publishers.
The Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading (CIEP) is a non-profit body promoting excellence in English language editing. We set and demonstrate editorial standards, and we are a community, training hub and support network for editorial professionals – the people who work to make text accurate, clear and fit for purpose.
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Posted by Abi Saffrey, CIEP blog coordinator.
The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the CIEP.