When I first began teaching, I was the smartest kid in the class. I had the quickest answers, the most accurate quotations, the brightest comments. I was used to individual achievement, high grades, praise, and it was hard not to continue my role as shining student.
But when I began teaching, I soon realized that my focus could no longer be me—it had to be them. I had to learn that my understanding, my knowledge was not the issue—it was theirs. I had to be patient with my students, interested in the shy ones, careful not to let the bold ones—like me—dominate. I learned to question, not answer; listen, not talk; set up a learning situation, not demonstrate my own mastery.
I had to grow up in the classroom, and I became not only an adult, but also a teacher.
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
31 years of teaching