Episode #300: Show and Tell or Show and Teach with Dr. M. Nader Sharifi

the best practices show podcast May 10, 2021

A teacher can forever change the trajectory of your life. Good teachers tell, and better ones teach — but the great ones inspire. And today, Kirk Behrendt brings on Dr. Nader Sharifi to talk about what makes a great teacher, how you can improve your teaching, and the future of learning. For more on how you can get the most out of your education, listen to Episode 300 of The Best Practices Show!

Main Takeaways:

  • Even bad teachers can benefit you in dentistry.
  • Acknowledge your mistakes when teaching. Don't just show the successes.  
  • When you're teaching, it’s not about you — it’s about the people listening.
  • Some teachers, you want to read. Others, you want to see.
  • Past masters are also great teachers.


  • “By the time we get to this point in our careers where we’re dentists, we have seen every conceivable flavor of educator in front of us. We have to have embraced education in some way, because to leave high school and go to college, you need to be willing to learn. And then to even leave college and go to dental school, you're committed about learning and you're not shy of it. And to take that step is a significant challenge for some of us, partly because of who’s taught us. So, we need good teachers to help us continue on our processes.” (05:29—06:13)
  • “To learn what's a good teacher, we also have to learn and understand what's a bad teacher. In dentistry, it seems to me that our bad teachers can also benefit us just a little bit, in some regard. So, that's really the “show and tell” part of it.” (06:15—06:32)
  • “Sometimes, I'll go to a conference, and there’ll be a presenter who will be full of glitz and glamour, and a beautiful patient from out of town who travels to see them, and has this humongous, multi-disciplinary treatment plan that took three years to complete, and it’s just spectacular dentistry. And at the end of the presentation, I realize I haven't learned how to do that. I saw that it was possible, but I didn't learn how to do it.” (06:33—07:06)
  • “The benefit [of show and tell] is, I see the potential for dentistry. I see the potential for myself. I see the opportunity. But I'm not able to do it. And that's okay. I just chose, in my path, I don't want to do that. I don't want to be that type of speaker. I don't want to be that type of teacher. I don't want to be that type of person. I want to be able to teach, and show a protocol, and show a process that's available to the participant in the audience. And so, that's not the show and tell, that's the show and teach.” (07:11—07:52)
  • “If we only show success and we don't acknowledge the mistakes we made to get there, if we only show success and we don't show the trouble that occurs in achieving that, it’s really a false reality.” (13:58—14:11)
  • “I was as far to one end of the scale as possible, being a presenter who would connect well with dentists much more so than I would connect with dental students, which was at the other end of the scale, because my first foray in teaching, which was inspired by some of my teachers, was in dental school. And it failed horribly. It didn't work well for me. I wasn't good at it, I didn't get positive results from the students. It wasn't working well, but I had a desire to do it. And I ended up evolving into having the opportunity to do it at the podium rather than in the classroom. And something resonated.” (19:14—20:02)
  • “Zoom doesn't give us that opportunity [to interact] the way that the live meeting will. However, for the first time in my life, I sat down with my laptop in my favorite reading chair in my bedroom and attended a symposium. And when the speaker said something that just astounded me, I could pause it, reverse it 15 seconds, write it down, listen to it again and say, ‘Okay,’ and then pause it again, make a couple of notes to myself, and then press play and never miss a beat. And so, I realized that there is going to be benefit from having something available to me on my computer rather than solely live.” (21:59—22:49)
  • “Learning from past masters is still something that I find valuable.” (31:41—31:47)
  • “For somebody who’s getting started in teaching, talk about your personal experiences that are true, things that really happened and that are valid, because you can't be challenged on it and can't be questioned on it. You can have questions asked that you'll need to answer, of course, but you can't be questioned on your truth.” (35:55—36:16)


  • Dr. Sharifi’s background. (03:59—04:48)
  • Why the concept of show and tell or show and teach is important in dentistry. (05:28—07:52)
  • A trend of simple, applicable, high-quality teaching. (09:10—10:26)
  • Dr. Sharifi’s three techniques for teaching. (10:38—12:53)
  • An authentic vulnerability of the teacher. (13:56—15:56)
  • Learn from and influence one another. (17:54—20:36)
  • Where dental education is now, and its future. (21:21—26:15)
  • Some of Dr. Sharifi’s favorite teachers. (27:20—32:48)
  • Last thoughts on teaching in dentistry and the future of dental education. (34:33—36:16)

Reach Out to Dr. Sharifi:

Dr. Sharifi’s website: www.drsharifi.com

Dr. Sharifi’s Instagram: @naderonsocial

Dr. Nader Sharifi Bio:

Having earned a certificate in prosthodontics, Dr. Sharifi is a refined general dentist with advanced training in the restorative aspects of dentistry. He received his DDS degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, then continued his education to earn a certificate in prosthodontics from Northwestern University Dental School. Dr. Sharifi also earned a master’s degree in dental biomaterials from Northwestern University.

Dr. Sharifi is a nationally recognized dental instructor on the topics of dental implants, full and partial dentures, overall patient care, and restoring root canal-treated teeth. He travels every other Friday to study clubs, associations, and dental meetings where he has presented several hundred lectures internationally and nationally, reaching nearly every state. Dr. Sharifi was named to the select American Dental Association (ADA) National Speakers Bureau in 1996. In 2007, he received the coveted Gordon J. Christensen Lecturer Recognition Award for excellence in teaching and loyalty to the profession.

Dr. Sharifi has been honored with membership in the American Academy of Restorative Dentistry and American College of Dentists. He is active in the Chicago Dental Society, the Illinois State Dental Society, and the ADA – where he served for more than a decade on the Council on Dental Practice. Dr. Sharifi also is a member of the American College of Prosthodontics, for which he has chaired the Committee on Dental Insurance and Managed Care. For more than ten years, he has participated as a member in the Northern Illinois Dental Specialty Study Club, and recently joined as a charter member of the Seattle Study Club of Oak Brook.

Outside of the office, Dr. Sharifi spends the majority of his time with his family. He has three amazing daughters whose exploits on stage keep him busy and proud. He loves to read novels and will ask about what you’re reading when you arrive with a book in hand. Dr. Sharifi enjoys hiking, skiing, and – because he has only daughters, was raised with only sisters, and works in a dental office with only women – likes to attend car shows and photograph the beautiful restorations to spend time with some of the guys.


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