I had no real understanding of what it meant to be a teacher before I took on the task of teaching. Right before the beginning of a college semester, I received a panic-filled call from my alma mater. A professor scheduled to teach a class had a personal emergency, and they needed a substitute teacher, me. I was stunned, a little flattered and a little panicked. The class was only a few weeks from the start, and these would be business graduate students. The only thing I had taught before was Sunday school, an entirely different beast. But I said yes and dug into the material.
Since that day, I have continued to teach on and off and picked up on a few non-curriculum challenges teachers face each year.
- Each year the class is different. Sure, the subject is the same, but the students make the class, and you won’t know how you need to adapt until you meet them.
- Students, like employees, bring their personal lives into the class. Whether personal struggles at home, work-life-school balance issues, or health problems. You name it; it comes to class.
- All students are hungry but consume differently.
- Some students come prepared; others are not. Some have so many challenges at home they are lucky to get to class.
As I think about the adaptations I needed to make for my one-night-a-week class, I marvel at the work of those who teach every day.
The rewards are tremendous. When the light of understanding goes off in the student’s mind, it is hard not to “do the happy dance.”
To be a teacher, though, takes preparation, active learning, and continuous development so that you can bring new approaches into your practice to help each student. All teachers contribute to the world’s success by preparing students to do the work outside the classroom.
Today, I recognize the vocation of teaching, where the deep gladness of touching the mind of another meets the hunger of the world for learning.