Teaching? Hell no?
How I left the school without never actually leaving.
One of my teachers once said that there is no greater activity in life than teaching. What’s funny is that she was telling this to small punks going through puberty and obviously nobody paid attention.
When you are a child, the grown-ups ask you who do you want to be when you grow up, my friends fantasized about becoming firemen and astronauts or even truck drivers. I didn’t know who I wanted to be and I still don’t, but hell, I definitely didn’t want to become a teacher. Teachers seem like your arch-enemies when you go to primary and middle school. It’s only later that you understand — they are there to help YOU. After many years of being on the other side of the fence, I am now the one trying to get the most out of my students.
I find myself wondering how did this happen and why did I get myself into it. In my case it came kind of naturally, but I’d lie if I said I was not terrified. It’s quite reasonable to wonder whether you have what it takes to be a good storyteller or not as I’ve always considered myself a shy ambivert and I didn’t have the luxury of having a way with words. However, even with all the anti-social qualities I really wanted to do it, I wanted to become better at what I do through the challenges of teaching. And a challenge it is — a class full of people trying to find something that sticks with them for years to come.
It takes some time to understand that teaching is not just sharing knowledge but also helping others to get inspired. That’s where the true value of teaching and mentoring stands. Once you figure that out, it’s a very fulfilling experience to push people into reaching new limits, trying new tools and expanding their mindset.
There is a side to teaching that could be a problem for a lot of part-time teachers. Not doing it full-time means that you also want to work on your speciality at the same time. It’s one thing to want to take on challenges of teaching, but it’s a whole different story from the actual work perspective. It is a sacrifice for the employer because I would sometimes need to work on teaching-related business a few days a week and that’s work not done for the employer, which is a huge investment.
I have to be honest, I am very lucky to work in an environment that really values and encourages all levels of self-development. Many co-workers are actually going through the same challenges as me, some teaching 3D modeling in the University of Tartu or giving photography lessons to kids and that is just the peak of the iceberg. Under the surface, the rest of the office is also constantly helping, as everyone is involved when we have interns, new employees or simply when sharing knowledge amongst each other. It keeps us up to date and constantly learning from each other. It’s an effort from literally everyone to get the inspiration flowing and going.
This post was written to celebrate the 1st of September, which in Estonia is considered to be the first day of school, and to praise every teacher and tutor taking up the challenge for the new year.