My father is a great teacher. Growing up I loved learning from him, watching him prepare, and most of all watching him teach. The lessons I learned from him made a big difference as I went to college and started to have some teaching and presentation oportunities of my own. After graduation I even taught for a few years before moving on into another field.
During this school year I’ve been a volunteer teacher for a class my oldest son attends. My father is the supervisor for the program. I get to have monthly teacher training meetings with him as well as quarterly group training. While I’m the one in the classroom teaching, his influence is in just about everything I do. He taught me how to ask questions, tell jokes, pace a lesson, break the ice, build rapport, and so many others.
This evening I watch three of my students chatting together after an activity. Over the last eight months I’ve seen my little class of 15 years olds grow and mature and become wonderful young men and women. They tease me when my jokes don’t land, groan when I call on them to answer questions, roll their eyes at my funny quirks. It’s probably one of the greatest experiences I’ve had outside of the experiences I’ve had with my own kids.
And through it all I think of my father. Of the hundreds and thousands of students he has had these types of experiences with. Of the teachers he has trained, helped, and shaped with his skills and deep empathy. If not for my dad I would never have had this amazing year with my little class.
I hope I get to volunteer again next year.