I was a horrible teacher my first year. And maybe even my second year too. To all my 2007-2008 students; bless your hearts. I didn’t know what I was doing, how I should be doing it, or why whatever I was or was not doing even mattered. (Remember, I had a publication degree, not an education degree). But somewhere around year three, I found my rhythm. I figured out for myself that I couldn’t do what everyone else was doing. Their classroom management style was not my management style. Their instructional strategies were not my strategies. Their relationships with students was really not the way I formed relationships with my students. I’m also pretty sure that you could write a book using my ten-year career as an example of what not to do when in comes to public education, I mean I gave out my phone number to my yearbook staff and this was 2007, not trendy 2017.
But like I said, somewhere around 2009, something profound changed my teaching, how I interacted with my students, and my life. Her name was Katie and as a high school senior, she was pretty much doing life on her own. I’m not going to go into details about Katie’s life. That’s her business. But on December 4th, 2009 Katie took a risk and walked through my front door. With two bursting-at-the-seems suitcases and one Yamaha piano, she chose to make us her family. This kid, who never wanted to be touched, much less hugged, had just unknowingly joined the most hipster, over-sharing, all-in-each-other’s-business-but-we-do-it-with-love family.
With what was promised as a five month respite for Katie before moving off to college on her own the following June, turned into almost five years of this petite brunette as a permanent fixture in our family. At every function. With her own Christmas stocking. Hugs required.
At just twenty-five years old, Katie taught me the greatest lesson of my life. A lesson that regardless if you’re a teacher or not, is transformative and I would like to share this little golden nugget with you. Are you ready for it? It’s short, simple, and easy to remember (Yep, I’m quoting Captain Jack Sparrow again). But here it is.
The Big Bang Theory, Series 03 Episode 23 – The Lunar Excitation