When people came up and asked if I could teach their kids how to play cello I said “Sorry, I’m not a teacher.” I never wanted to be a teacher. I never claimed to be a teacher.
Teaching is not my superpower and that was fine by me. Spending day after day in a classroom with kids who pay attention 1/4 of the time on a good day sounds more like one of Dante’s circles of hell than a career.
I’ve heard that some people do it and actually love it.
They have my deep, deeeeeeep respect and admiration.
For 29 years I was content not being a teacher. Lately, I noticed I am more grumpy and easily irritated lately but I figured it was because of Covid and all the stuff I mentioned last time. My wake-up call happened at work.
I snapped at my boss, “I already told you…”, which I now know is equal to saying “What’s wrong with you”. Which You should never say to anyone, let alone your boss. After an…interesting discussion, we agreed that I’m not good at communicating (already knew that) and I’m also not a good teacher (knew that too). I thanked her for letting me know I was calling people stupid without even meaning to.
What she said made sense, but I couldn’t understand why my boss was complaining that I’m not a good teacher. I thought she knew that. I thought, “I’m not a teacher. I’m not a teacher. Why would you think I was a teacher? Teachers get paid to teach, and they don’t get paid enough. I am not a teacher.”
Then that small voice chimed in, “Are you trying to live like Christ?”
“Well yeah…why? “
There was no response but then it clicked.
Whether people believe in Christianity or not, nearly all worldviews and religions accept that Jesus was a phenomenal teacher.
I never ever ever EVER wanted to be a teacher. But, I can no longer deny that maybe every Christian is called and expected to teach. Teaching is not confined to a classroom, but rather we teach everyone around us just by being around.
We teach how to respond when someone comes at you aggressively.
We teach how to talk about sensitive topics.
We teach what it looks like to take care of a house, dog, or ourselves.
We teach when we don’t even know we’re teaching.
Apparently, I’ve been teaching all along—and teaching poorly. I did all the wrong things like getting easily annoyed and genuinely not caring because I thought it was fine since I’m not a teacher.
There are so many people I need to apologize to…Time to also learn the art of a good apology.
Starting today I accept that I am called to be a teacher. We all are. Thankfully, we don’t have to jump careers and start teaching biology (unless while reading this you felt strongly called to do that). Even with my less-than-enthusiastic, “I guess I am a teacher” mindset, I feel different already. I feel lighter and more willing to try to understand where someone is coming from. Teaching = communicating, and while I’ve been trying to improve my communication, I can’t have one without the other. Maybe one day I’ll be genuinely pleased about this new responsibility, but right now I could cry. And no, they’re not tears of joy.
Teaching requires a lot of time and compassion and effort, which is why I was grateful to avoid it. Before realizing that I am already a teacher, if someone needed help with something, let’s say, technology, I would think, “Well figure it out.” Moving forward, if I want to approach it like a good teacher, it should look like, “Well, what happens if we click here? And this means this because of this. And blah blah blah.” However, I’m afraid of the light blue, impossible-to-see line between being a good teacher and treating someone like a baby…
When I started this blog, a friend asked, “Are you sure that’s what you want to write about? Do you realize, that will never end?” Naively I replied that getting to write about life lessons and fun stories would be fun forever! I focused on the first question. I didn’t understand that actually, in their second question, they weren’t talking about the blog, they meant me.
Growing never ends.
But it’s also entirely optional.
Through this lesson, I had to face the hard reality that I was the problem and yet my life is still worth living. Maybe that connection seems obvious to you, but I struggle with suicidal thoughts. For a couple minutes after talking with my boss, I thought that since I am such a bad teacher I shouldn’t be here anymore. I had no desire or hope to become a teacher and yet everyone expected it of me, so I wanted to quit.
My options were quit or grow, and I didn’t want to grow that way.
Then the voice asked the right question at the right time, and now I’m saving tips and encouragements for teachers on Pinterest.
There was never a time where I wasn’t a teacher—I was a bad one. I wasn’t ready to accept that I needed to be a good one because teaching is the most important job.