“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
The syllabus for my LIM College class is coming together. We’ve worked through some required reading choices, made some structural decisions, and began the search for final project ideas that the students will work on in teams. I’m an exceptional student, and I’m learning fast that there is not a direct correlation between student skills and teaching skills. Previously, I thought there was a strong linkage. Teaching, unlike studying, takes us to the very edge of our learning every time. We can only teach what we truly know and embody.
I have a lot to learn about how a college operates, how staff and faculty work with one another, and how to make a mountain of information palatable and intriguing for college students. I have no doubt that I’ll get there – it’s just going to take loads of muscle power on my part.
As I left my meeting at LIM this morning, I thought about the correlations between teaching and leadership. I have always believed that being a leader is not telling people what to do – it’s about paving the way for others to spread their wings. It’s about providing resources, support, and a knowledgable, empathic ear. It’s about helping people be the very best they can be.
Teaching, as I see it now, is the same thing. Give students some knowledge, resources, and a structure that fosters their own creative thinking. And again, that empathic ear is as useful in the classroom as it is in the boardroom.
As a new adjunct faculty member, I’m a student as well. I’m learning how to craft a syllabus and then bring it to life. I’m learning about new teaching technologies as my class will be done half in the classroom and half online. From the other side of the table, I’m now crafting and analyzing grading systems, workloads, objectives, and then figuring how to map objectives and tie them into weekly lesson plans.
I’m a doer – the strategic thinking phase of a project, I will admit, is not my favorite. I want to roll up my sleeves and get to work. I need to tinker and test and try on these teaching shoes. I’m anxious to get into the classroom, meet the students, and begin.
On my way out from LIM this morning, I saw the Henry David Thoreau quote on their bulletin board and I took a deep breath. It’s okay, and actually a privilege, to be at the beginning. And the more time (within reason) we spend at the beginning, the better the end result will be. Every task, just like every fruit, has its season. Thank you for the reminder, Mr. Thoreau.