Professional development is probably one of my favorite parts of my job. I thrive on changes and possibilities, and professional development keeps life from getting too still or predictable.
I tend to think of professional development as conferences and research and breakout sessions, but I think any time we push ourselves, either professionally or personally, we stand to develop as humans.
Wednesday night I found myself at GCC’s first bilingual open mic poetry reading. I organized it as part of my job as directing the creative writing program here at the college, so it made sense that I was there. We were going to have two hosts and some featured guests who would read poetry in both Spanish and English after the open mic portion of the evening. My job was to be there, represent GCC, encourage community and student members who wanted to read, and make sure nothing went wrong with technology. I had been planning an event like this for a year — not that it took that long to plan, but that I had the idea that long ago, and it just took a while to produce. Since GCC is a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI), and many of our students and community members are Spanish speakers, why not celebrate writing and creativity by offering an evening for expression in both languages?
What I didn’t expect was the following: The host who organized the entire evening, beginning to end, couldn’t come at the last minute due to a family emergency. The host who was to actually serve as the emcee got stuck in Phoenix rush hour traffic and was half an hour late. That meant that I had to get the evening started. I had to speak Spanish into a microphone and have it broadcast before fluent Spanish speakers. Certainly my Spanish is conversational, but speaking in front of a group of people in English is hard enough, even as a teacher (because it’s not my classroom, my students, a zone I am familiar in). Doing so in a different language was scary enough to make me break into a real sweat.
I don’t know how I did. It was nobody’s job to provide me with feedback, and in the moment I was too panicked to notice anything besides my own panic. Eventually, the real host appeared and took over. He was charming, funny, and completely fluent in both languages. The evening went on and my magnified moment of mass uncertainty drifted away.
What I do know is that Wednesday night professional development happened. To me. I stretched my comfort zone more than a hair. Whether I did well or not seems almost moot. What matters at this point is that we had the event, it was well attended and fun, and I did what I had to do to facilitate it. In the meantime, my entire self, like the Grinch’s heart at the end of the book, grew a few sizes that day. I did it. Lo hice.