Teaching to Learn or Learning to Teach?

Learning to Zip It and Listen, and Occasionally Share…

I do have a more thoughtful and existential side, which others rarely see by design, because I have chosen very consciously not to share it. I have learned, however, that being pragmatic and introverted may be the safe choice, but we rarely stumble into greatness without venturing into uncharted territory.

So I’m learning to share and reflect and sometimes, frankly, it’s exhausting. But I trek on…

Essentially, I want to learn “how to learn from others” through interaction and hands-on experience.  I have always been an independent thinker and learner, which works well for multiple choice exams and essays, which is how I was able to get by without a problem for so long. Then I entered the realm of education. I would like to finally explore a side to my learning which I truly don’t know exists because I have seldom used it. I need to learn to converse, which in an interloger system, means not only speaking, but listening as well. As a lecturer, this is going to be tough. However, if I am to learn from others, I need to curb my chatter, and open my ears.

What Brought Me Here…Cambridge Calling

Forgoing a lucrative career in the pharmaceutical industry 10 years a go, where my path was guaranteed but miserable, I traded my BMW for a Toyota (don’t judge me for being a bit shallow—cars are my weakness) and began schlepping it from one college campus to another to earn a living as instructor in higher ed in Houston. Funny enough, those years were some of most liberating and enjoyable times of my life. I loved the craft of teaching and the interaction with students so much that I committed myself wholly to my work and the perseverance paid off. I secured a full time faculty position and was soon on way…research projects, grants, committees and so on. Then things began to plateau…

I had a particular interest in distance education, hybrid platforms, and blended learning environments. I read articles, tinkered with various programs and Learning Management Systems (LMS) to get myself up to speed on buzzwords such as “flipped classroom,” “lecture-capture,” and “MOOC.” It didn’t seem like it was enough to really take my understanding and application of these technologies, or my career to the next level. I was full of ideas with little power to implement them, so after 5 years of full time teaching, I took advantage of being eligible for a sabbatical and took matters into my own hands. Yes…just when things were settling down, and I had traded the Toyota in for a new toy, I decided to uproot myself to Cambridge, to live in a 1 bedroom apartment and study/work 7 days a week and take a (major) pay cut! And I could not be happier with my decision.

I feel that learning is essential to teaching, and we can learn from anyone, at anytime, in any place–we just have to be open to it–so don’t judge! Some of my most inspired ideas have come when and where I least expect them. Media/art/film, travel, and the roller coaster that is life are my muses and my motivation is my work.

Teaching is a noble and indispensable profession, yet it remains under-appreciated. But that is the true virtue of those who teach, not because they “can’t” as the adage goes, but because they choose the direction of a less worn path…sometimes patchy, bumpy, and in much in need of attention with no promises of rest or reward at the end, but simply a never-ending journey.

So I now share my journey with the blogosphere (Note: “blogosphere” is actually recognized now an actual word) in a way that I feel is very open and honest, which cuts against my grain, but when I choose to do something, for better or worse, I go all out.

Thank you for reading and sharing in my journey work towards creating meaningful change. It’s a work in progress…

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