An Instructor’s Diary Entry

Randy Helfman


It has been a long week of teaching. While the subject matter is the same, the students change after each 18 chapters complete. Time to meet whole new groups of people, either on livestream or in person. Timid, quiet, and restrained during the first few classes, students blossom as the classes proceed. At the end of the program, friendships have been created among students and also with their teachers. Attendees become more comfortable and willing to participate. Oftentimes, groups celebrate with a quick potluck on the last day of live classes…these folks were relative strangers two weeks ago.

Sadly, after mastering their names and unique proclivities – to sit on the side, the middle, the back, and the front – a new group full of different ages, backgrounds, and faces, will arrive shortly. In essence, a microcosm of society mirrored in one room. Worry starts to set in that the previous group will succeed. Relief takes over as texts from passers start appearing.

Wow, the wonderful mom of two, who struggled with prorations, but finally mastered the concept, has passed! So too did the young man with the backwards baseball cap and the person who said “I’m sixty-seven years old and cannot learn anything new.” Another text tells me that the young lady who had a language barrier, has worked it out and passed the school test. There is an indescribable and absolute feeling of accomplishment to see these determined people succeed. Now more than ever, we need these victories in our lives. These victories are not just for the students, but also for the hard work of the entire school. From staff, to management, to instructors, we all had a hand in guiding the success of each student.

It is almost a greater win, when initially someone does not pass but keeps pushing towards the goal, perseveres, and finally succeeds. I tell students every day to study along the way. The curriculum will not be a cakewalk but more like drinking from a firehose, as chapter after chapter starts to pile up.
Of course, there is always an abundance of first-time passers, but strangely the victory is sweeter for those who rise to the challenge after what they consider failure. Albert Einstein put it best, “You never fail until you stop trying.” One such text was significantly touching and was the catalyst for this writing. This student had to delay classes because of tragic personal circumstances. The details are not necessary, but her successful journey was nothing less than awe inspiring.

Time for a new group, time to meet and learn from the students. Yes, it is true, I learn something new from each and every student that comes through ASREB. The key is listening. So often a question is asked that I have not heard before, which allows an opportunity to see the learning occur from the student’s point of view.

Thinking about it, all the staff, instructors, and ASREB change peoples’ lives. All schooling accomplishes this. Every school, parent, grandparent, guardian, and family member contribute to peoples’ lives daily. Very few feelings compare to “I made my first commission” or “I PASSED” in all caps.

What an honor for us all. An absolutely humbling and exhilarating experience – that repeats every nine days or so.

I was awarded Educator of the Year at the ASREB Journal Industry Awards in April of this year. A quick thanks to those who nominated me. It was a great evening attended by amazing leaders in our industry, including senior officials from corporate, and the Commissioner of Real Estate, Louis Dettorre. My highlight was to see a legend in our industry, Jim Hogan, receive the Hall of Fame Award. Clearly, it was an unforgettable event. The one thing I remember saying, and mean wholeheartedly, is that I would forgo receiving the award if it would mean that one more student would pass with ease. Got to go now, they are starting to find their seats on the side, in the middle, the back, and the front.