Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Life

March 24, 2013

Being a student, instead of a teacher, is challenging

It is humbling to be a college student at age 41. I am, certainly, excited to learn new ideas and skills, and I have no problem with submitting myself to professors or processes or institutions. No authority issues or anything. But when you’ve “been” the teacher for so many years in so many settings, it can feel a little, well, multiple-personalities-disorder-ish to remember which I am in any given moment — student or teacher?

I should note it also can be a great relief when the Just-A-Student personality is dominant. I love heading into my classrooms and soaking in information without having to know the information and communicate it effectively myself. I sit — in the front row, remember — with a cup of coffee, sigh, smile and think, “Teach me.”

And I love it when things click. So often these days, thanks in part, I’m sure, to 20-plus years of adult experiences from which to pull, the proverbial dots are being connected. That brings me great pleasure.

But back to that pseudo-schizophrenic feeling of “Who am I today?” (Can you tell I’m studying psychiatry? Please note my references to disorders are not clinically accurate; they’re a dubious example of pop-culture use of serious terms to convey ideas.)

Even when Just-A-Student in present, Mom-and-Teacher is usually watching, analyzing the teaching and tucking away her findings for reference.

From that perspective, I’ve pondered recently: What makes a good teacher a good teacher?

I know. My brain is busy. I’ve diagnosed myself chronically hypomanic. It’s OK. Not pathological.

One measure of a good teacher: He or she “inspires” people. I’ve decided I want to do that. I want people who connect with me to feel inspired to conquer things. I want, in some way, to have infused them with confidence, something we call “encouragement,” to give them the tools to do great things.

Problem is, I don’t know how, exactly, to be that kind of teacher. I know how to convey information, even entertain people. But I want to impart more than good feelings. I want to impart a motivation for success, whether that’s in my own children, childbearing clients, my nursing patients or anyone else I might instruct.

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There has been discussion at West Goshen Elementary School to require mandatory student uniforms in the future. How do you feel about the prospect of mandatory student uniforms in a public school environment?

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