Teaching, Part B
To entitle sequential posts ‘Part A’ and ‘Part B’ sounds like I’m mixing epoxy, but I’m not. I am gluing together my thoughts about the art and science of teaching, in the hope that you will share your experiences as a teacher, or your experiences as a student, for me to ponder. My last post was a reflection on my first-ever experience of teaching adults.
Becoming students in a classroom is to make ourselves vulnerable. Entering a classroom is an admission that we are incomplete. Entering a classroom is to invite change within ourselves, and change IS the unknown. We enter a dark passage, not knowing if bandits or treasure await us there.
Most adults have spent decades being beaten down by criticism, implied or spoken, imagined or real. When we have achieved years, we are also weighed down by those years. What does it take to enter a classroom, dragging our chains of emotional insecurity and our backpacks of failure and ridicule? It takes courage, and that has to come from somewhere.
Times when you are courageous, when you act from a place of generosity of spirit instead of fear, from what cubbyhole do you pull out that courage? I think I hide my courage underneath my abandon, my devil-may-care, my I’m-too-old-to-worry-what-others-think place. The skin is thicker there, and I can grab it and pull it out of the way quickly, revealing the courage underneath.
Courage is also fostered by trust- trust in oneself, or trust in God, or trust in the community. As a teacher, I hope to be trustworthy. I hope that those who have paid me good money to teach them something new can trust that I will treat them fairly, respectfully, discerningly, and generously. I would like to use trustworthiness to foster courage in my students so that they can enter my class without reservation, and allow themselves the opportunity to explore something new without fear.
Made for a therapy dog-inspired wall at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, TX. The mosaics for the wall are being made by members of the Austin Mosaic Guild.