By Robyn Jay Bage
For the past six years I’ve taught at a community college. As a nonprofit manager too, I’ve been teaching, in one way or another, for over 20 years. You name the demographic; I’ve taught groups that are in it. Sometimes, teaching is a breeze. The audience is prepared and eager to learn, inquisitive, engaging and sharp.
At other times, the group can be reluctant, skeptical or ill prepared for the work at hand. I used to think I’d met my most significant teaching challenges. That is, until a few evenings ago.
I belong to a writer’s group, a small collection of women who are aspiring authors and poets. We come from a variety of backgrounds, which makes both our work together and our laughter richer. The only thing we have in common besides a love of writing is that we are not at the beginning of our journey; we are all in the middle. I am the youngest. Trust me when I tell you, that is like saying the turkey is uncooked, long after the little thermometer has already popped out.
After about a year of debating the pros and cons (and addressing a few members’ fears about being online), the group decided to start a blog. I am an experienced blogger, so I offered to set up the blog and help everyone sign-up and log in. Dutifully, I prepared a lesson plan. Since the group was unfamiliar with most things cyberspace, I planned to speak for a few minutes about the free blogging site, talk about blogging in general, and define a few important terms. I would then walk the group, step by step, through setting up their user names, logging in and writing their first entries.
Everyone carted laptops and tablets to the meeting and I was ready to roll. We turned on devices. That was the last moment of control I had.
My group was eager to learn and skeptical, inquisitive yet reluctant, sharp but not prepared for the work at hand. Instead of waiting for my instructions, they jumped right in and stumbled ahead. Not surprisingly, many members struggled, all at different steps in the process and each person wanted my help immediately.
I began moving from person to person to guide them through their unique quagmires, while keeping one ear vigilant for cries of What does this mean? I can’t get in! They want my password again? I didn’t give them that name! Robyn!
My pedometer was on overdrive. I am certain I have never worked so hard in my career. But it was worth it. Their excitement was palpable. I could almost see the light bulbs sparking overhead with “A ha!” moments. After an hour and a half, all were logged in and had posted their first blog post.
I am a teacher.