So, I was thinking about how being a teacher has actually helped me strengthen some other essential skills –things that have nothing to do with instruction–and here are three things–in no special order– I do better because I teach.
Because I teach, I have talked myself out of the all-brawn, no-brains links performance assessment. I started playing golf when I fell hard for my husband’s driver. It was big and shiny with a fine titanium shaft that quivered ever so slightly on the backswing. I loved the resounding ping when the driver and the ball met on the tee. But, for far too long, my game was all about heft. I was intent on muscling the ball to the green. Some times it worked; most times, it didn’t. Now that I am a loyal devotee of the Core Curriculum, however, I understand the value of depth over breadth. I am making friends with the other clubs in my bag. Though I still have a love-hate relationship with the nine iron and though a great tee shot still leaves me breathless, teaching has helped me find honor in the short game.
Being a teacher has also helped me expand my limited decorating know-how. Other than a youthful, errant fling with a tangerine semi-gloss in the kitchen (I know, but it was the 80s and the Formica countertop was orange), my design palette is populated by timid hues all variations of well, white: antique white, cream, eggshell, coliseum white, winter glaze, full moon. You get the picture. Teaching has shoved me out of my color comfort zone. When the only roll of paper left was lime green, there was no other choice. Warily, I stapled green panels to the back bulletin board. Lightening didn’t strike. The sun rose in the East. I grew a bit bolder and tacked up a geometric border of black, yellow and hot pink. Still no unnatural disasters. I applied this new found audacity of color at home and painted my bathroom baby blue. OK, so the towels, shower curtain and bath mats are all pure white. But the walls are blue. Baby steps.
A trusted colleague often reminds us of wisdom acquired from veteran city teachers in the Bronx: “Take care of the little things and there won’t be any big things.” Well who knew this sage adage applies equally to car maintenance? I used to be of the opinion that when the tranny squealed, a good first line of defense was to crank Springsteen a little louder. OK, a lot louder. And that works fine for awhile, until you notice the greenish puddle of transmission fluid around your parking space in the mall. What about that annoying service stabilitrack dashboard light? As McGuiver would know, silver duct tape, of course, until the wheel locks up as you are about the hit the exit ramp going a tad above the posted 40 MPH speed limit. Yup, just as “the look” in the general vicinity of potential classroom disturbance can avert disaster and detention, attending to the little things can prevent that urgent call to AAA towing.
It’s all about those teachable moments, right?