Something big has happened. I said the words “I love teaching.” They just kind of came out of me.
I typed them in an email, actually. And while I’ve tried these words out in my head a couple of times over the past few weeks, they have (until yesterday) been less appropriate than “I’m happy” or “Life is good.”
I thought you had to be good at teaching to love it. Or… not bad at it, at least. Turns out, you just have to be getting better. Working at getting better, even. Or something. You just have to see opportunity instead of flatlining.
I wish this was more concrete. The only real thing that’s changed in my classroom is that now, kids generally do what I say. And I use “generally” very loosely. Probably… 55% of the time, kids do an okay job at following directions (and it’s a pleasant surprise each time). I don’t know exactly what that percentage was when I hated teaching—I know it felt like zero (maybe seven, actually), but my memory of specifics is fuzzy and biased, blurred by a shadowy haze of other awful memories.
What I love about teaching, turns out, is the same thing that’s so beautiful about rowing, and the same thing that makes dance so addicting—the same thing, in fact, that causes that high of learning anything new. It’s the pull. It’s the constant and workable demand to improve. It is absolutely limitless potential, stemming not from talent or skill or hard work, but purely from the infinite truth that you will never, ever “get there.”
It’s the constant chasm right around the corner, this gaping black hole defined by the next thing you could be better at. The fact that I’ll always be doing something wrong is not a discouraging weight, but a gripping force that sucks me forward. The emptiness just ahead—the knowledge that no matter what, there will always be room to grow—is why CIE defines me. There is nothing more beautiful or inspiring or compelling than that nagging feeling that something could be better.
This blather is so much more about me than it is about teaching. But… it is really cool that TFA has given me an experience, and a sweet acronym, that allows me to define so much of who I am.