May 3, 2007

CH8 Teaching is a Gift; Not a job

Filed under: Creating, MiniNovel, publishing, TVC, Writing — techish @ 1825 UTC

There is one individual I’d been calling my hero and my mentor; my hero because he saved me from myself by believing in me much more than I believed in myself. And my mentor, whether he liked it or not, because I was more-or-less following him around doing my best to acquire the skills he had. More or less because I wasn’t exactly stalking him, but I was assisting in his classes and substitute teaching for him occasionally and he also worked at Third Sector Technologies so I was around him constantly, if not in person than at least on the other end of an Instant Messaging client; and I called on him often. With the patience of a saint he always took time or made time to help me with whatever it was I was trying to accomplish. He was wonderful about making me go find the answer without blowing me off, even if that meant he had to turn me in a circle and point me in a new direction.

He wanted to move on to teaching something more advanced. The head of the degree program I was in and this hero teacher were both saying I would take over his class. I truly thought they were both kidding as it would send me into near panic mode every time they mentioned it. It didn’t take very long however, for me to realize they weren’t kidding. As many times as I said, “No”, both of them were there to say, “Yes!” By now I’d come to respect the instructor opinions almost more than my own and I believed him, trusted him unconditionally. He saw something in me that I didn’t. He had faith in my abilities that I didn’t. If he’d told me I could fly, I would have tried. Okay, maybe not literally – but you get the gist.

The greatest challenge of this chapter – is that is is an extremely personal and emotional one. I failed miserably the first semester. And although the second semester was at the far opposite end of the spectrum and I felt it was a great success in comparison – I was not invited back to teach again. This is where it’s highly charged with emotional connection for me, because teaching is something I really really wanted to do. But without guidance, with ZERO experience other than substituting and tutoring – which are not the same and are barely a warm-up to actual teaching – without any real guidance and with complete lack of communication from my boss and advisor – I feel I was hung out to dry. The instructor did try desperately to save me, but I was not able to understand what he was getting at… so there was a complete disconnect there at well. The facts surrounding it are viewed differently by all three people – but this is MY story 🙂 and even though I don’t want to step all over the opinions of the others, I know what it was from where I was setting. If all three had input here – I’m sure I would finally get a better rounded understanding of what really happened.

So, the greatest challenge here is to try to write about what happened objectively – which is technically impossible. Of course I’m objective! I’m still extremely sensitive when talking about this particular two semester span because I failed so miserably – which meant I failed my students as well – and it’s not my nature to fail and quit. It’s my nature to fail and try again, and again, and again if I have to until I can at least succeed even if I cannot master whatever it is I’m trying to do.

The challenge to ‘report’ if you will, on what happened in a way that the reader can grasp how horribly affected I was, yet that the reader can still see this was just another hurdle in the learning process. I want the reader to fully understand how emotionally charged this is, without having to muddle through reading the emotional sludge that the freewriting produced. Because the utmost reason for this book has to remain in front… this is to inspire and motivate the reader to realize that s/he may be taking some classes working toward a degree, but also that opportunities can and likely will crop up all around them if they are truly applying themselves, and that they might even fail miserably at an attempt. But that’s not the end. That is merely one facet of the total gem that is the education they will take away with them.

What I desperately do not want the reader to go away with is the same bitter taste that I have in my mouth for some of the events that happened. I do not want my reader to sense that I am still anger or that I still with I could call individuals to the carpet to get the direct answers I needed how many years ago (?) that would have possibly allowed me to try again. I do not want the reader to know the ultimate underlying truth in this chapter, which is that I was so damaged by this experience (miserably failing at teaching) that I have shyed away from, avoided, and refuses to teach ever since – which has had some detrimental effects on my current job and possibly my future career. I do want the reader however to go away knowing the truth of my failure, yet knowing that ultimately, I still want to teach… someday… somehow. I do want the reader to feel the respect I have for teachers and to feel that after this experience it increased immensely.


This chapter will prove the greatest personal challenge to successfully write. Multiple attempts thus far, have brought me down from about a 708 grit (sandpaper grit reference) to where I am now at about a 190 grit. For this chapter to be acceptable for the reader, it really should convey no more than a 30.2 and even that number is a bit high, but I believe a little passion should remain. For it to be completely objective it would have to be about a 10.3 grit but I’m not sure I’m capable of that


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