for seasoned teachers, it becomes easy to demonstrate mastery over their subject matter, answer any type of question, come up with lessons at a moment’s notice, and more…often times, their passion about the material drives their own continued curiosity about their field of study, and that is what keeps them sharp (and what inspires their students, too)…and over time, the mastery of their craft may even exceed their own wildest imaginations–to really know more than you thought you were capable of (and then) learn something new–again and again and again?! after all, it is absolutely crazy how much you can learn about one small part of the world!
at the same time, veteran teachers may find the opposite is true for their emotional mastery among their students…almost as if the interpersonal and ‘soft’ skills are worn and weary–brought down to the ‘bare bones’, if present at all–and, as the intellectual expertise and curiosity grows and thrives, this other force works inversely and develops along another trajectory. it moves in this way…in silence and in shadows…until it doesn’t. then, it arrives, brutal and raw and visible for all to see. almost as if the time and energy teaching students has robbed the teacher of understanding, compassion and patience–or, to be truthful…it’s almost as if the teacher has intentionally and willingly handed these things over, through the years…
what then, shall a teacher do?
a teacher must become, once more, a student teacher.
[with emphasis on student]
how then, shall a teacher do this?
a teacher must leave the warm comfort of what they know.
and do something unknown to them.
only when a teacher leaves the safety and security that they have built can they become a pupil again. and only then can they see, hear, and feel what it is like to be a tenderfoot, a greenhorn, a first-timer once more. this is true for me (and maybe it is true for other teachers as well). this is the path that i am seeking–renewed compassion, patience, and understanding. and the first steps are the hardest, because the only way to go forward is to submit, to bow, to acquiesce and to admit that you know absolutely nothing.
recently, i have started taking karate classes with my children. it is awesome, difficult, and very, very frustrating (at times). the other day, i watched one of my instructors show me a punch–and he gestured, now you. i did what he did. i felt good about it. for a minute. until he said, that was completely wrong do it again (and again and again). in that moment, i was frustrated and impatient with myself and my instructor provided correction and encouragement. he showed patience, compassion and understanding to a complete novice–as i fumbled along, my karate ugly, looking like a stumbling and clumsy oaf. but, he stayed with me.
the process is humbling. but, it can bring you back. i think it’s doing just that for me–i can feel the start of it, you know…
maybe, it can stir something in you, too.
so, what will you do? what new thing awaits you on the horizon? will you…
learn how to swim? paint a portrait? speak a new language? learn how to dance? write a book? take a trip? build a shelf? cook a meal? repair a watch? volunteer?
whatever it is and whenever it happens, i wish you good speed.