From Student to Teacher

Last week and this week, I have had the privilege to teaching some classes at the camp I’ve been working with and have gone to for years. Yada yada. Read what I wrote on Monday for the whole explanation.

But today I wanted to have a quick reflection on this particular aspect I volunteered to help with. While the two camps end up being much more than education, the opportunity to take classes about a wide array of subjects is one key aspect behind what the program stands for in general. To support gifted students, we should be expanding their minds in any way we can and not hold them back. So if that means they’re interested in storm chasing, musical theatre, or improv comedy, then why not offer it?

Luckily I did not teach any of those subjects I mentioned. Instead, I’ve taught both high school and middle school students about how to build a blog and an overview of veganism. Not in the same hour, might I add, but I figured I might be of some use to people who are interested in either and don’t know where to start.

Let’s be honest, I started out a little rough. So for the first week, I didn’t actually find out I was teaching until the night prior. So I got two slideshows together in a couple of hours and hoped for the best.

The first day I only taught about blogging, but you could definitely tell it was Wednesday at a bright-and-early 8 AM. Since I didn’t necessarily have a huge amount of content prepared and since it’s fairly easy to set up a WordPress account, I felt like I was pulling at some straws to keep kids interested. You can definitely tell that some were giving it a solid go of writing out a first blog post and figuring out what designs look best as a website, but others were literally writing out about how tired they were from two full days of camp already completed.

Which, I completely understand. I’ve been in their shoes. But it still made me antsy, going through the thoughts of “Am I qualified to do this? Do these people actually respect me? How many times have I said ‘obviously’ in the past hour?” Have to love anxiety and the constant voice in the back of your head thinking the absolute worst case scenario.

The next day, however, I was in the zone. I gave out food for correctly answered trivia questions. I had lots of information to go through. I even put memes into the slideshow, so I’m already stepping up my game. But I felt more comfortable in general. I felt more put-together. People were actually asking some great questions. They randomly applauded at the end as if I just did a choreographed routine or something.

But overall, I really enjoyed that experience. In classroom settings, I’ve occasionally done activities where you “teach” the class, but never just…me. No pressure, right? I’ve already had a deep respect for education though. It was never something I’ve wanted to do as a career, but since my mom has always done something involving education, I see the hard work that goes into it. I see how often students neglect the blessing it is to even have a quality education available to them.

If it was possible, I would have everybody fill in a teacher’s role, even just for one class like I did. See how you hold up. It’s quite a responsibility to know you are leading a room full of young minds looking to you as a mentor, to learn something new. You can really have a major impact on them. Just as they can have a major impact on you.

It’s so easy for people living in a developed, modern society to see education as just another hoop to jump through. The expected path to partake in order to fill that all-American dream and eventually go up the corporate ladder. Why do that when you can step out of high school and enjoy some newly found freedom instead? Go against the grain?

Regardless of the grade or institution, we cannot devalue education as a core human right, a resource that truly affects all aspects of life. Especially for those who might not have the same luxuries as America, education can turn a struggling nation into one that addresses economic, health, and security concerns in an entirely new light. Education can save lives.

Maybe a little spiel about setting up a blog or watching a video about veganism won’t do much in the retrospect of things, but I know that for me, it has been a wonderful experience. It has reaffirmed my affirmation that knowledge is power. That fully appreciating the world and people around us requires an openness to seek new things out, to discover and always learn. We are always students. Yes, some of us end up being teachers, too, but the wisdom we might gain beyond a general lesson plan is an opportunity we cannot pass up.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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