Saturday, May 3, 2008

Finding My Calling

I never really planned to teach. After my disastrous experience with a third grade class in Urbana, Illinois, I vowed I would never step into a classroom again.

Then, many years later, I decided I wanted to develop a seminar on how to write a book. I planned and organized and made a beautiful Power Point presentation. The only problem was I had no idea what I was doing.

So, I enlisted the help of two professional speakers who wanted to become authors. Our deal was I would help them plan and write their books if they would give me feedback. Eventually, they did write books, though not the ones they originally planned; and I did get lots of feedback.

That was the beginning of putting together a class, instead of a seminar. I started teaching a noncredit course for the St. Louis Community College in the Spring of 2004. I had pages and pages of notes, very little confidence, and a packed classroom. It was frightening but exhilarating. I remember all of the students and their topics, but doubt that anyone actually wrote anything.

Nonetheless, I was hooked. The more I taught, the more I loved teaching and the more I improved both my skills and the class. I wrote a workbook, which is now in its fourth edition. The community college offered a follow up course for my previous students. We called it the graduate program.

Teaching is the most satisfying thing I've ever done. I tell my students I will fall in love with their ideas long before they do, and it's true. When those ideas don't turn into books, I feel a real sense of loss. When they do, I am so proud. Many of my students become close friends.

Sometimes, it takes years to find one's true calling. When it happens, it is magical. I am so lucky to have found mine.