Many of us fancy ourselves experts in our field, or at the very least, pretty damn competent. We’re eager to impart our wisdom on the newbies and offer a haven for their inevitable freak-outs during their first few weeks at the new job or in a new classroom.
Teachers –– those in the teaching profession–– have chosen this as their career. Even I chose this. I don’t think it makes a bit of difference what is the subject matter to those with the gift to teach. I have a friend who teaches middle school choir who says, “I could teach a monkey to drive a car, it doesn’t really matter to me.” I repeatedly ask him to warn me when this happens so I can seek alternate routes.
As teachers, and I’m no longer speaking solely about those in positions as teachers, professors and the like, but all of us who have something to offer another, we understand that we have a responsibility to those still learning. What I think we often forget is that we will not be good teachers if we are not still learning ourselves.
Yep. You guessed it –– forgot about that, myself… Way to go, Miss Teacher. I was reminded of it by my twenty-three year old neighbor, Katie, who is just starting out on her own, in her first place, with her first job straight out of college. A person whom I did not expect to blow my mind to bits. Totally happened. Huge mess.
Katie moved in across the courtyard from me last year, and already, she knows the names, job descriptions, family circumstances and reasons for incarceration of pretty much every neighbor in both buildings. I know 2 people: one of whom is Katie, the other, my next door neighbor, Chris. I only met him because he said hello. I’m not as social as I should be.
Katie was astounded that I didn’t know anyone she was talking about. “How can you not know anyone?! You’ve been here for SEVEN YEEEEEEEEEEARS?!” Ouch. Called out by a millennial.
I gave some convoluted reason about working 70-hours per week, about being around five-hundred students every week, performing all the time… blah blah blah… and she gave me the best deer in head lights stare I’ve ever seen. It made me a little uncomfortable, actually. So I said, “What…” It wasn’t a question. I knew it was headed more toward a fill-in-the-blank kind of thing.
“I talk to everyone.”
“I noticed that, Katie.”
“Well, why wouldn’t I?! Why would I miss the chance to make a positive impact on someone else’s life? Or have them make that impact on mine?!”
“When I showed up all girl-freak-out-crying on your patio last week, you said some things that totally changed my perspective, and it really helped me. That’s what I’m talking about.”
“Will you please start talking to more people, Nicki? Seriously.”
And with that, a lesson was shared and learned.
We learn, we teach, we learn more, we teach more. Repeat ad nauseum.
Thanks for the reminder, Katie. I had forgotten that.