What Teaching Taught Me

This summer I was given the opportunity to go back to Seneca College (where I studied) and teach radio 'Announcing Skills'. I was so excited! Both my heart and mind were full of expectations about spending time mentoring and teaching students as deeply passionate about radio as I am. 

What I didn't think about or know, was that this was just as much of a learning experience for me as it was for them. Here is what I learned: 

Lesson #1: Have No Expectations. 

Don't get me wrong, my students were passionate about radio. Some even more than others. But I quickly learned that nothing is ever exactly how you dreamed it up to be, especially when you throw in 16 other students dreams and mix them up with yours. The lesson you are teaching and the one that you will teach them are two divinely differently things. For example, one of the first assignments I had my students do was to share a 'Break a Leg' moment that they perserved through in life: 

This was inspired by the video I showed them of Foo Fighter's front man Dave Grohl who broke his leg and fell off stage this summer while on tour. He got back up, had his leg fixed up and came back on stage. He finished out the tour with his foot propped up in a rock 'n' roll purple cast for the rest of the summer. 

As someone who is ahead of them in the game, I know that working in radio is a focused and driven career field, one that takes a lot of determination and you need to be the one to push yourself to get back up when you've been 'knocked down' multiple times. The assignment was about sharing moments with me that they could channel later in their career and remind themselves what they were capable of.

I was blown away by the responses I received from my students. Their answers were so deep, real, raw and true. What this actually did was give me a chance to connect with each of my students on a deeper level and really get to know them individually. 

This opportunity was way beyond anything I had expected to learn from this assignment. 

Lesson #2: Keep An Open Mind

Like the 'Break a Leg' Assignment, there were multiple times where I felt as if the task at hand was a lesson beyond what had been set out. During Airchecks, I sat one on one with my students and I listened to each of their demo's and marked them out of 40. I really thought about where they were coming from. What was their interpretation of the assignment? What were their strengths? Their challenges? How could I help them see all of these attributes in a positive way that would help them grow as a jock and a person? In these ten minute sessions, it became more than a mark or a grade for both teacher and student. My mind was open to each student as an individual and it gave me the tools I needed to help them open up theirs to new ideas also. 

Which brings me to Lesson #3: Listen

I spent a lot of time listening to demos, but the most important thing to listen to was how my students talked about themselves and their work. I noticed that coming into an Aircheck, my students constantly had excuses for their work. "I tried something new here" or "I think I did well on this but we will see"

I had set out guidelines for marking, yes. But more important to me was my rule in the classroom about "no excuses". I wanted each of them to have the ability to come into every situation with extreme confidence and pride. Don't tell me why it's not good, let's listen together. Show me what you know, I'll show you what I know and we'll build upon that. 

If the opportunity presents itself for me to teach at Seneca College again, I will be there in a heartbeat. Not just because of what I can teach my students from this experience or my work as a jock over the years - but because of what they can teach me.