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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Teaching is hard, dudes...

...but first, cupcakes. You see what I have to deal with at work every day? These shenaningans. My desk is right by the unofficial "treats" table, and this has been a week of plenty - special K bars, halloween candy, and now homemade Caramel Apple Cupcakes. Help.


Moving on. Teaching is hard.

One of the most terrifying moments of my life to date is standing in front of my first class of students at Theatre e3 in 2002. I'm not sure I walked into that room with any sort of plan or agenda other than: "I know things! About music!! Now I will teach all the little children and IT WILL BE AMAZING!!!"

And then, my first class of students walked in. They were six and seven-year-olds - and I was scared to death of them. I stood paralyzed in front of them as they sat cross-legged on the floor, staring up at me with wide saucer eyes, waiting expectantly for me to fill their little brains with knowledge.

I had to teach them things. I had to fill the next 45 minutes of time with teaching them things. The room suddenly seemed quiet. Time slowed to a crawl.


I took a deep breath. Smiled. "OK kids let's do some warmups!" And we were off.

Some of my amazingly talented kiddos in 2005

Teaching is tough for me because, as an introvert, my default position is sort of to retreat back into my own head. It's not that I'm antisocial or don't like people - far from it - but I'm much more comfortable being an observer than being the center of everyone's attention. As a teacher, your goal is to be the center of your students' attention - and you have to work damn hard to make that happen. Being that outwardly-focused and "on" for such a long time is draining.

When I started my first corporate job, before I went back to school, I assumed that because I was making more money, my job would be proportiantely harder.


Leading a meeting of corporate executives (and I literally mean was a smaller company and I ended up reporting directly to a VP) is not nearly as hard as teaching a class of six and seven-year-olds. For one thing, corporate executives tend not to spin around inexplicably in circles when they don't feel like participating or paying attention. The also tend not to scream, hit each other with wooden planks or make you to pretend a stick is some delicious Harry Potter food.

I'd forgotten how difficult teaching was. As a teacher, you are juggling a thousand different things in your brain, but have to assimilate all of these constantly changing inputs into a steady, easy to understand string of words or instructions that make logical sense. And you probably should also sound like an engaging human being and not a robot. I understand now why teachers like using powerpoint - giving a presentation is much easier than actually engaging with your students. I'm pretty sure it is also less effective (MBA professors, I'm looking at you!)

So enough of my rambling - even though Wednesday night's yoga class was made up of grown adults instead of kids, it brought back a lot of memories - some of them painful, some of them amazing. See, while teaching was by far one of the most difficult things I've done, it was also one of the most rewarding. Hopefully it's something I'll be able to continue doing in the future, but for now I'm just loving the practice and the journey.

As I already mentioned, my husband and I are headed to southern Wisconsin for the weekend, to get away and relax for a bit. Julianna was kind enough to agree to watch Mini for us, so that for the next two days we can enjoy drinking microbrew, eating delicious home-cooked breakfasts, and hopefully recharing our batteries a bit. Peace out.

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