My favorite educators are genuinely bad at something.
Let’s reflect. Some of the best athletes in sports fail as coaches. Take Magic Johnson, for example. He moved on the basketball court like a professional with the ease and grace of a supernatural being, yet when it came to coaching, he had difficulties. When it came to relating to players who were rather lackadaisical, it is said that he could not get the job done effectively as a coach.
So many educators can be described similarly. Can you remember sitting in a high school or college class and watching the utter brilliance of your teacher while not grasping a thing? When teachers don’t know the struggle of learning, they have trouble connecting to their struggling learners. Many teachers grumble in the teachers’ lounge wondering why their students avoid completing assignments, but I have to ask, are you connecting with your students? At minimum, will your students complete the challenging assignments out of love and respect for you?
Teachers certainly need to know their content and know it well, but when it comes to being the most relatable and knowing how to break down content into manageable chunks of memorable information, I’m a fan of the imperfect student turned professional teacher.
Let’s take this blog on back to a personal story.
I vividly remember going to the front office of my high school the very first week of my senior year practically in tears asking if I could be supported in my math class through tutoring. The front office staff gently let me know that my math class was reviewing material from previous school years, and I sniffled while admitting, “Yes, I know” with my head bowed in shame. As the office staff realized my efforts and concerns were genuine, they asked me if I would be interested in taking a math class that reviewed math concepts throughout the entire school year instead of taking math on the next level, and I felt the greatest relief and joy as I was able to be supported in the way that I needed while building my confidence throughout the entire school year, and I wouldn’t be hanging on by a thread.
Personally, I feel that knowing what it feels like to struggle in a subject area provides me with connection and compassion for my students. I believe that the struggle in high school math made me strong, relatable, and real. I don’t know everything about everything, and I don’t want to pretend that I do. When I’m the right fit for a teaching experience, I shine! When I’m not the right fit, such as teaching Calculus, I respectfully let families know.
Currently, I’m teaching Biology to a small group of students each week in the afternoons, and I love it! Biology was not my jam in high school or college, and this makes me strong! This makes me totally relate to my students, and as an adult and veteran educator, I know how to break down the material taught in class into smaller, delightful chunks of information for understanding for my students. We also have tons of fun!
My greatest strength is literacy, and I teach evidence-based Reading, Writing, and Grammar with confidence and a relatability to my elementary, middle, and high school students. I began teaching ACT and SAT strategies this year, and it rocks my socks! I love making information meaningful and watching my students have those magical “a-ha!” moments.
Without the struggle, I wouldn’t be so real, and I wouldn’t be nearly as fabulous.