Teaching/Learning/Serving?

March 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had a practice student last weekend. It went quite well, I think. Not perfectly (not that there’s any such thing). I felt ill-prepared*. I think I talked a bit too much. I may not have understood that one thing she said (ask, Mel, ask), but on the whole, it was a great experience. Then I spent the afternoon feeling a bit fragile, instead of gleeful. I wondered why and am unpacking it a bit.

She was kind, open. She answered my questions and asked her own. She worked hard, was very focussed, had beautiful breath. She approached both the things she likes and the ones that she doesn’t willingly, intentionally. She donated her practice time to be “taught” by me, and she taught me about how to teach.

[I did not want to be a teacher] but in these baby steps, practice teaching one on one with willing volunteers (T & Erin, I love you, thank you for giving me safe space to try), and then branching out to people that I don’t know as well or at all really, I start to see the value. Teaching is a whole other level of practice. It’s attempting to be fully present for someone else (and trying again and again in each new moment), to offer what might be useful or helpful. Sharing experience, questions, and keeping myself open to learning too.

It’s so scary to say this now, that I want to teach [I want to teach] – to open myself to trying with all my heart at this thing, acknowledging the possibility of failure – of many failures… teaching by definition will offer many *cough* opportunities! And it feels kind of crazy to put myself in the position of helping someone else when I’m clearly still working through my own stuff (and beginning to understand that it’s a never-ending process).

I feel like I am laying claim to a bit of my future, where I take responsibility for the connection that I feel by serving in a more direct manner.  I think this is the piece that is more terrifying, because this is something that I’ve wanted for a long time (longer than I realized). This weekend, I felt a little bit like, here it is, I’m doing it. In this tiny, real way. Right NOW (not “someday” anymore). A little piece of freedom, my future, my dream – and not the idealized soft-focus version. It’s terrifying AND exciting all at the same time. I was tearful and thoughtful and grateful all afternoon.

Bet my student didn’t know she had that effect on me.

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*I also felt trust (somehow!). I talked my ranting skeptic into listening to Jen Louden & Michele Lisenbury Christensen’s Teach Now module for just a few minutes – but I loved the whole thing and I’m so grateful for the gift of their time and energy (It’s free dude. Seriously.) Here is one of the biggest takeaways for me, and the one that helped me Sunday: I am the transmitter for this hour – but “there is more in support of our students than just us – trust that they will get what they need. I am not the source of this” – The teaching is in service to the material, the concepts, and the student. It’s not all up to me (What?! Yes, I KNOW!). What a relief!

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