It's that time again! It seems like every other store and commercial is revolving around the season of back to school. New clothes, haircuts, backpacks, locker decor and whatever you can stuff in a pencil case.
In a very short time I will be standing in front of a blackboard, grading written assignments, explaining mathematic formulas, and racking my brain on how to make the European settlers fun to learn about... because I'm the 'teacher', right?
But recently I've been thinking about teaching a little differently.
There is 'teaching' in a school, conference, or business-style context, like what I was describing above - the classic lecture all the way to a one-on-one hands on experiment. But teaching isn't just about being in a classroom or gaining new knowledge about a certain topic, it's engrained in us as a way to grow in who we are as individuals. Teaching is happening everywhere all around us and we just fail to acknowledge it. Trial and erroring, talking out loud, discovering something new, linking together connections. In a very informal way, we are being taught and are teachers to others every minute of every day.
This week I made a list of people in my life who have had a big impact on who I am today, and who I am becoming. There is but one commonality in all of them and it is this - They have taught me at least one big life lesson.
I think the people that have the most significance in our lives are also our greatest teachers. Not the 'stand in front of the blackboard' kind of teachers. The 'sit across from you in a coffee shop' teachers. The ones who dial into my struggles and echo understanding and encouragement. The ones who's characters inspire me and cause me to exemplify their outlook or attitude. The ones that demonstrate patience and see through my stubbornness.
I want to be that kind of teacher.
But more than just being a good teacher, the question I am beginning to ask myself is, how teachable am I?
When I first moved to Haiti, I approached the people I met with the mentality that I had all of the answers. My Canadian citizenship and skin colour plopped me into a category where I could easily float along and assume that I knew it all. But the longer I've been in Haiti and the more I assess my know-it-all ideologies, the more I realize how far off the mark I am.
I want to be more deliberate this year about being teachable. Our world is full of people, culture, choices, opportunity, relationships, and emotions. And more and more I realize that by opening ourselves up to gain a new perspective, even the most unlikely people can sometimes change who we are for the better.
I think sometimes I forget that I am still learning. I give the diploma hanging on my wall permission to grant satisfaction. It's a dangerous trap. I never want my job title to exempt me from being open to a new approach or attitude. More than ever, I want to keep learning and growing, sharpening my mind and softening my heart to being better one day at a time.
To all of the gracious teachers in my life - you know who you are - thank you for the big and small ways you have journeyed with me to get where I am. And to the greatest Teacher of all, thank you for carrying me through the valleys, and waiting with me through the storm, and faithfully believing in me when I lost all hope in myself. I am chasing after You.