How to be a great teacher, get out of the way

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There are a lot of great things about teaching and one of the best is learning to be humble. Lots of teachers think they know more than their students. They think the students are lucky to have them as a teacher. The fact is you are lucky to have these students to have a great conversation with. Your students are out living a life you aren’t living, they are listening to music you don’t hear, they are dancing and doing some amazing moves in their life, they’ve got partners and ex-partners and future partners and some of them have extra partners that they’ll regret later or leave their current partners for, who knows? It’s a crazy world out there. Most of us who are writers want to live a wild alive edgy life. We want to feel the edges of our life and the middle of our life, the wet places and the dry places.

Do you act like you’re married? Do you act like you’re single?

Back to what I was saying, the best thing about teaching is learning something from the students. Even the students who are so confident that they know more than you do that they like to put you down or not listen to you. That’s a great experience too because, voila, they might be right. They might know more than you do. But, I think the point of putting yourself in a position where you can learn from someone is to learn. When I have a teacher, I like to learn from them. Because eventually they won’t be my teacher any more. Eventually we’ll have some different relationship or maybe we won’t know each other at all any more. I remember when Norman Dubie was my teacher; that was a very long time ago. I thought he was wrong about a lot of things. I had huge shiny bows in my hair and I wore very short skirts and oversized shirts and lots of beads. I wanted to be Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan, unfortunately I wasn’t quite the actress or singer that Madonna is. But I did learn a lot from Norman Dubie. He is brilliant, I just didn’t know it at the time.
That is not going to stop me from singing tonight at the Talent Show after I go out for a few margaritas. I think those margaritas are going to help with the singing. Let’s be honest, my singing needs all the help it can get.

Teaching is about getting in the room with a group of students who want to move forward, but you need to make room for the other students too. The ones who don’t really want to move forward, they just want to stay in place for a while, that’s got to be okay too. And what about students who don’t want to listen to you? That has to be okay. They are listening to their own hearts and minds. Let them. Maybe their own hearts and minds have better things to say than you do today. That’s always a possibility. Dream of tigers and the way you would run if you were one.

Published in: on January 2, 2014 at 3:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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