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The Teacher Becomes the Student

Being the center of attention feels like crunchy, jagged gravel has been poured into my stomach in a perpetual churning motion. If all surrounding eyes are to be on me, there has to be an extraordinary reason for it. In this case, I had 60+ extraordinary reasons.

The students of The Betty Mativy Roberts Education Center.

As a volunteer teacher for a day, as the students crowded around me under a canopy of bright blue sky, I wasn't sure what to say. I had some general lesson plans swimming around in my head, but most of what I thought would work didn't due to a lack of supplies or language barriers.

When in doubt, I find getting as present as possible eases the way. If I keep my heart open and focus on the person, in this case, student, in front of me, there's an unspoken alchemy that happens between us. The students could sense I was a willing witness to however they wanted to express who they are. Some wanted to dance, others wanted to sing, and then some simply wanted to share how much their teachers mattered to them.

The next day, when teaching older students, I was able to use my original lesson plans as we were in a classroom setting with supplies at the ready. Once again, I didn't quite know what to expect and how much they would connect to my lecture on the art of creative writing. I needn't have worried, these 7th and 8th grade students soaked in every word and nuance of every sentence I spoke. The questions at the conclusion of class were insightful, hopeful, and blew me away. I get goosebumps even thinking about it!

After I returned home, Diane Hamrick, the founder of Kenya Partners responsible for creating this incredible school, sent me some written pieces from a few of the students I taught.

More chills and goosebumps.

Even though I have been writing for a lifetime, I still don't feel like I am a qualified writing teacher. These students showed me a different way to see myself. Maybe I don't have a formal degree or a published book, but I have joy for my craft. During my lecture when I felt out of my element and unsure what to say next, I kept reminding myself to speak from my heart. The students connected to this authenticity and this is what they expressed in the brilliant essays Diane shared with me.

If an ordinary someone like me could impact these students, even if only to a small degree, imagine if all of us stopped waiting to be properly 'qualified' and instead started sharing our gifts and our joy with the world right now.

What a wonderful world it would be.

Inward & Onward

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