I was thinking the other day about my first teaching job. I was fresh out of school and we were living in a new town and new state for that matter. My new principal looked at me and 2 other newbies and said, “I need one of you to teach the multi-handicapped class, one of you to teach language arts and one of you to teach math.” The other two girls piped up pretty quickly and snagged up all but math…which left me teaching math.
The thing was, I sucked at math (and still do actually).
When I told my husband and my parents that I was going to be teaching middle school math, they all laughed and said “good luck.”
It was that bad. (Did I mention that these students were deaf too?)
To say I was overwhelmed would be an understatement.
But, for the two years that I taught math at that school, I was probably the best teacher I ever was. I think it was because I struggled with the subject that I was having to learn, re-learn and then teach to students that were learning it too. I truly had empathy in a way that I wouldn’t have had were I teaching a subject I knew backwards and forwards. I remember those two years and those students like none of the others I taught for the 7 years after. I know it was partly because they were my “first”, but I also like to think it was because I was being challenged to learn along with them. I think it truly set the stage for the rest of my school teaching career.
It’s something I’ve been thinking about as I start this new business teaching sewing.
I didn’t go to design or art school. I don’t have a background in retail or business or fashion. What I know is what I’ve learned along the way. It’s what I’ve shared in small pieces with others. It’s what I’ve shared in this space for nearly 7 years. It’s filled with many crappy seams, horrible button-holes, garments I’ve made for friends I’m crazy embarrassed about now, stitches that never matched up and who knows what else.
But I think because of all that it makes me a better teacher.
Sometimes the best teacher is the one who is learning along side with you.