I came across a saying recently that went, “You don’t become a man until your father dies.” Yes my died, but I won’t be speaking on that today, I want to relate it to my time as a teacher.
For most of my life I’ve been the student in a school environment. Now that I’ve been on both sides, I’ve discovered the student is the passive, observer, person riding shotgun (whatever you want to call it) role in a traditional learning environment. Being the teacher everything gets turned on its heels.
Gone were the days when I could just roll up to the lecture hall, kick my feet up in the back and say “waddup profes.” Now I was up front in a class full of teens and went, “oh shit all these kids are staring at me, do something kid.”
When your teachers/professors are gone (“died” figuratively) and now you’re the teacher. You’re no different then yesterday, but now you’ve got big boots to fill. The burden of educating the future generations now falls upon you.
So I straightened my back, groomed my exterior and acted like an “adult” even when at times I wanted to act like a kid. Basically tried to look the part and dole out wisdom borrowed from those that came before me. From the vocab techniques of 6th grade Chinese teacher Mr. Pau to the funny jokes of 12th grade econ teacher Coach Papa, I ripped them off.
Do this for long enough and you begin feeling less of an impersonator and start becoming the real thing. I have no intention of being a teacher/professor long term. But I see now that it was a rite of passage.
You don’t become a teacher until all your teachers are gone.
Kingston S. Lim
April 8, 2020
San Francisco, CA