What am I talking about?
Well, In the past two or three weeks I have been taking mixed martial arts. I am working through a big change and it is really stressing me out. Last week, in my morning class, One of my former students was in the class and I had to spar with her. She just received her high ranking red belt last night, so she really knows what she is doing. I joked with her and asked her to be easy on me then she stated- “Do you remember when I had to walk around with books on my head in theatre class? Payback!” Oh geez… Yes, I made my students do crazy things like that to help with character building and posture, but now it is payback? Oh boy. I didn’t want to hurt her, and yes she is a high belt rank and training to be a fighter, but I taught this kid in school! Throwing punches and kicks is not appropriate to a student- wait- I am not her classroom teacher anymore. I started off okay, going through the moves when it happened.
She said, “You can do better than this- do it! You got this! Don’t hold back!”
I am being schooled by my former student. She is very knowledgeable, and very kind and those words came out of my mouth not more than 4 months ago and now she is saying that to me. It was a game changer. She is the expert and she is confident and strong. She instructed me how I instructed her, except I am not as confident as I used to be.
Then fast forward to Wednesday night.
Long story short- Wednesday nights are Pokemon club-night at a local anime store. My 9 year old likes to go. Usually we just drop him off because another one of his friends parents is there, but this time, I wanted to check it out. Great place, buzzing with 8-13 year old energy, playing a favorite game. Them it happened again- I look up and there is someone I recognize. I ask the other parent who that was and she said “That is SMASH. The leader of the club.” I told her, “No, that is a kid I taught from Middle school through High school!”
I had no idea.
I walked up to him and it was a great mini reunion. He said he had been doing this for a couple of years now. College didn’t suit him, he works at a call center as his day time job and in the evenings he does this. He told me if I had any questions to ask he isn’t called the professor of Pokemon there for nothing.
Wow. Again mind blown.
Then a couple more former students walk in the door (now an 8th grader and a junior” (Pokemon is ageless).
8th grader says, “Do you know how to play Mrs. C?”
“Grab a deck and let’s play. I will teach you.”
That is what happened. The 8th grader grabs a deck and teaches me how to play. At first he went so fast. When I asked him to slow down because I just couldn’t keep up , he did. He answered my questions and he was excited to teach me something. He was compassionate. Explained things well. He was the expert. And I won my first battle. (No, he didn’t let me win either.)
The professor was readily available to answer many of my questions on how to practice. And gave me lots of suggestions on how to improve my game.
I became the student and two different kids became my teacher.
Another student, who graduated a few years ago, just yesterday said she would help me on this blog since she has her own blog on how to make food. She is the expert.
Being schooled again.
I guess the bottom line is this- I seriously don’t think these kids- and they are really good kids- would help me learn new things if, when I was their teacher in the classroom, I didn’t teach them something, if their experience with me wasn’t positive, and if I didn’t teach them with respect. They knew me and they went out of their way to teach me. I was willing and open to learn. It wasn’t how I did it. It was just that I did it. I felt so honored and proud that they taught me something. And I realized that in a small way I made a difference in their life. (This realization that I made a difference in kids lives is something that I am still working on. My self esteem and confidence as an educator is not as strong as it used to be.)
The take away: Being arrogant and a know it all is not the answer. Sharing with respect is. Especially if you want kids to have empathy and compassion. You are going to have to set the example. And they DO pay attention, BIG TIME. I certainly don’t know it all- I mean who really does?