Why I'm Here

Welcome to Teacher | Children | Well!

They say the first page of any book is the hardest, and that must apply to a blog, too.  I’ve been trying to write an introduction for weeks, and I’m just stuck.

What makes the first page so hard?  For me, it’s that it becomes real.  It goes from a perfect idea inside your brain to a flawed manifestation of that idea.  When it’s just an idea, it’s yours; you can hug it to yourself, refine it lazily while you’re doing the dishes, luxuriate in its beauty all alone.  But as soon as you’ve shared it, especially in a forum like this – yikes!  Everyone knows.  They know your quirks, your foibles, your absurd tendency to overuse asyndeton.  So it’s safer, and far easier, to let it remain yours alone.  Hence the stalling tactics.

While inconvenient, this paralysis of indecision is a fitting metaphor for my entrance into the world of teaching.  I never wanted to be a teacher.  In fact, I resisted every step of the way.  In college, I was happy working at an antiques store, but an old acquaintance called one day to ask if I’d be willing to teach her piano studio (about 15 students) while she went abroad for a semester.

I said, “I have no idea how to teach piano.”  (True.)

She said, “It’s easy.”  (Also true in some ways, and completely false in others.)

I said I would come along and watch her for an evening so I could meet her students.  I did, and it did seem easy, and my inflated sense of self-confidence won out in the end.  By the time she returned, I had a studio of my own, about the same size as hers, which has ebbed and flowed over the years but remains about that size today.

A couple of years later, my father called me up to tell me a colleague of his was starting up a tutoring center in the area.  “You should go meet her.  I’m sure she could use someone like you.”

Again, Moses: “I’m not a tutor!”

“Just go meet her.  I think you guys will get along great.”  We did, and she hired me on the spot.  I worked for her for awhile, teaching phonics and math to children and one incredible woman about  my mom’s age who had just never learned to read.

One day, my boss called me in and asked me to close the door.  Oh no, I thought.  Here it comes.

“I got a call from a private school today.  They’re looking for someone to teach three classes.  I’d hate to lose you here, but I think you’d be great at classroom teaching.”  I went to the interview, and they hired me with no degree or experience teaching the subject.

On my first day there, the music teacher told me she was pregnant, and did I want to take her class when she left?  Rob just shook his head when I told him.  “You’re the only person I know who can walk down the hall and have a job fall right on top of you.”

A few months later, I had some requests for a tutor, and I started taking them, too.  Other classes followed – always someone who thought I “would be great at” something I had never done before.  And there are still more stories, more incredible opportunities that I never deserved and probably still don’t appreciate enough.

The point is – I didn’t choose teaching; teaching chose me.  I struggle every day with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, but in the end, there is no doubt that I am supposed to be here.

So, why am I writing?  Well, I guess because I have something to say that no one else is saying.  Blogs abound about parenting and cooking and design and many other absurdities, but I haven’t seen many about teaching, and that strikes me as 1) a sign that if I’m the only one who has time to blog, maybe I’m not working hard enough on my lesson plans, and 2) a real shame.  Not many days pass for any of us when we don’t take on the role of teacher or student in some form.  The way we teach and learn, and what we choose to teach and learn, are closely tied to the way we live and what we value.  And what could be more important than that?

I look forward to hearing from you in this new forum, where there’s sure to be plenty of fodder for discussion, name-calling and flame wars – so those of you who love a good cyber-fight can settle in with some Raisinets to watch the fun.