Thursday, September 12, 2013

Not all Blessings Wear Disguises

I love to learn. Give me a topic that interests me and an Internet connection and I'll get lost for hours. Put that Internet connection in a library and I might not emerge for days.

Lately, the learning has been exhausting. As I navigate the unfamiliar terrain that is the world of college teaching, each new class requires hours of preparation. Balancing "just enough" with "a little more than I need" and stopping short of "Step away from the computer. You have now entered overkill." has been challenging.

I'm not complaining. Far from squelching my love of learning, this experience has ignited it. There is so much to read, so much to study, so much to share. Each topic is a new road to travel, with exits and side roads branching out and offering a different view of the same terrain.

Though I worked as an elementary school educator for nearly three decades, this is a brave new world. The challenge in teaching elementary school students lay in finding a way to make complex concepts accessible, but the challenge that lies before me now -- at least so far -- is igniting a passion for the subject matter in the students I teach.

It's a little tough when I'm as nervous as they are -- okay, more nervous than they are -- but day by day, topic by topic, it's getting easier. I'm gaining traction as preparation falls into a predictable pattern, and by the time I'm standing in front of my class, my enthusiasm for the subject matter transcends the information. Or at least I hope it does.

To have been given this gift at this stage of my life is incredible. Though my own college years are far behind me, my daughter's college years are just ahead. The conversations we're having surrounding this adventure are well-timed and the insights I gain from her perspective are every bit as informative as any research I am doing.

Today, for the first time, I felt multiple pieces falling into place. I'm learning their names. Surviving momentary missteps. Feeling less like an impostor when I sit in an adjunct office during office hours.

I know there will be bumps in the road ahead, and I'd like to say I'm prepared, but I'm sure I'm not. All I can do is bring my A Game and my enthusiasm.

Today, the professor who teaches the class after mine asked me if I was enjoying the experience. When I told him I love it, he gave me the best possible reply: "I can tell. It shows."
Once upon a time, I stumbled into elementary school counseling and discovered that I loved it. And now, nearly thirty years later, I've discovered that there's something else that ignites that same passion, long after youthful optimism has been nudged sharply by jaded experience.

How lucky can I get?

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