Have you ever been asked to do something you were incapable of doing, for the good of the institution and the students?
My first teaching opportunity outside of my graduate assistantship terrified the living daylights out of me. I was hired as the assistant wellness director at a community college in Kansas. A few days into my new role, I was told I would be teaching aerobics as part of my job, so I needed to get certified ASAP!
Cue “fight or flight response,” dilated pupils, rapid heart rate, dry mouth and sudden demand for oxygen. I was no Jane Fonda! I had zero prior practice in any type of dance movement or ability to move to music in a rhythmical fashion, and actually have two left feet!
Much training took place and I passed the certification test. Fast forward to the first day of class. Ten eager students stood in front of me, all decked out in brightly colored 1990’s spandex and high top tennis shoes. There might have even been a few headbands. They were ready to get their sweaty groove on and earn their fitness grade.
The basketball gym looked 100 miles wide and a million miles long. My eyes dilated and the bright lights looked like an alien spaceship landing behind my row of students. I was the alien. It was like an out-of planet experience. My heart was pounding and I have never felt such terror!
I started the music and began with the basic moves, creating a sequence and then repeating. I began to calm down and was encouraged by the smiles of freedom and movement on the students’ faces. I had taken my first big leap in my new career and despite the weeks of sleepless nights, I had done it! I had faced my fear with a pounding heart and was now challenged to take more risks.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a risk taker. But I have discovered through my 30 years of teaching, that if I want to get to the heart of the matter, I have to take some risks, challenge myself, and feel some fear and pain. I generally come out on the other side with a new vantage point and a new love for doing what I do every day.
What risks are you taking to spark your love of teaching? What choices are you making that are outside of your norm? What conversations do you have with yourself and your colleagues about what could be better? Get to the heart of the matter and see what is possible!