One of my favorite things to do as a child was to play school. Often at the end of the school year my teachers would have leftover mimeograph sheets (how distinctly I remember the smell of those sheets!) in a variety of subjects. I was always one of the first to ask for some of the surplus to take home and play with over the summer. I collected an impressive stash of teaching supplies, and had a blast holding “classes” with my friends over the summer. I graded papers in brilliant flourishes of red and issued homework, coaching my “students” further in areas where they needed extra help.
As I grew older, I enjoyed tutoring friends in troublesome subjects. English was my favorite. I grew up to teach creative writing workshops where my red pen went on hiatus in favor of a more encouraging approach to fostering creativity. I am blessed to have inspired writers of all ages over the years to pursue their writing talent and go after wording their hearts and lives with passion and purpose. It is a gift I am gratified to leave behind me as I go.
I love teaching any age, whether in writing or critical thinking or Bible study. Any age and any skill set. Perhaps my favorite students are those with special challenges and methods of learning. I hold a firm belief that all children are gifted in unique ways, and that just because we may have to dig a little to find out what makes them tick doesn’t mean they are the ones with the challenge; it makes much more sense to presume we the teachers are the ones with the challenge, and we get the joy of discovery right along with them as we reveal exactly what pulls that light bulb string and makes it click.
I did not grow up to be a public school teacher as I aspired in my childhood to do. Instead I grew up to homeschool our own five children over a 25-year span. I taught multiple subjects and grade levels in several private school settings, and even had the opportunity to do creative writing workshops in public, private, and cooperative homeschool settings. My favorite Wordweavers workshop I ever taught had a student age range of 7-70; I won’t ever forget the delightful time we all had together.
The rewards of teaching have taken many forms: a smile here, a light-bulb moment there, a note tucked into my little red mailbox on my desk. I like to think there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people out there loving learning a little bit more because our paths crossed. That thought alone makes every teachable moment more than worth it.
I am now a writer and editor with a column and a collection of online weblogs. I am blessed to serve as ministry director for Write Where It Hurts, a ministry inspiring and equipping women to write their way through pain to healing and hope in Christ. I can’t imagine ever not teaching, just like I can’t imagine ever not writing. They are both woven into my fabric.
A few weeks ago the flag atop my little red mailbox caught my eye. Assuming someone had mistakenly bumped into an upward position I went to lower it, then on a whim checked inside where I found a tiny pink note from our 17-year-old daughter with the hand-written message, “Mommy-remember you’re beautiful and I always believe in you. –Rosie”
My most treasured return from teaching is watching our own children ignited with a love for learning that has followed them well into adulthood. I never set out to teach them all there is to know; no one but God could ever do that. My three-fold goal was simply to teach them to know and love God, to instill in them a love for learning for its own sake, and to equip them with the tools for learning.
I teach with a kind heart and an impish grin. I figure if I can help someone have fun learning, to realize how cool it is just to discover something new, I will have given them a great gift. As long as there are teachers like me giving such gifts, we will continue to celebrate the giftedness within each and every person. We are all made in the image of God, after all. What better gift could there be?