Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Certainly Don't Do It For The Money

I didn't want to be a teacher all my life. I didn't grow up playing school house. I certainly never had the craving to wear school bus earrings or apple sweaters.

I still don't, by the way, so don't get any bright ideas.

Yet somewhere along the way, I made a startling realization. I really love to teach people new things. Sincerely. It's not because I presume to be some kind of genius. I'm not. Or because I'm some jackass know-it-all. Because I'm not. Or at least I hope I'm not. I simply get a huge charge out of learning new things, and as I love to learn, I also love to see others learn.

It's that moment that the light bulb comes on. The smile that bespeaks confidence and accomplishment. And then the subsequent moment that person teaches someone else.

After teaching and coaching for almost twelve years, I can honestly say this: on any given day, I'll get four times as many blank looks as I do light bulbs. And that's even probably a generous estimation. The blank looks are maddening -- soul-crushing -- at times, and the continual repetition is wearing to say the least. But the challenge of seeing a problem and searching for new ways to approach it is what keeps me going.

On Friday and Saturday, I moved four of my A-Team basketball girls down to the B-Team. They were disappointed, for sure, but I asked them for only one thing: to believe that I was doing this to help them. To teach them in a space more suited to their level and at a slower pace.

And in the first game of the morning, in the most crucial time, the girl who wouldn't so much "shoot" the basketball as "attempt to crack the backboard by chunking the basketball" received the entry pass, pivoted to the goal, took a power dribble, and put up the most beautiful lay-up I've seen in a decade of awkward junior high basketball. My heart skipped a beat. And then, as if the basketball gods had not been kind enough to me already, she did it again on the very next possession. I promptly fell off the bench in a fit of giggles.

The whole gym got a little bit brighter from both of our smiles.

And that, my friends, is why I teach.

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