Friday, July 15, 2005

The Big Deal

I had a great chat with a former Youth and Government kid recently. She finally (finally is her word, not mine) declared a PR/Journalism major and feels like she has really made the right decision but worries a little about the "perfect" job.

I was so glad to tell her not to worry. I was so glad to tell her that the goal is not to find the job, but to find the ultimate goal. A job is a means to a greater goal, I think, and your ultimate task is to find the great goal.

I figured this out a couple of years ago when I was a bit depressed at not doing theatre. From the time I was about 14 to the time I was 27 or so, my goal seemed to be finding the right show, whether it was to direct it or perfrom. It worked for a long time, but when the show didn't fly or I didn't get the role, what was left? Once I took a job as a speech teacher, I spent about a year feeling empty without rehearsal, but then I found what I think is my bigger deal.

I think my bigger deal is to catch people at their best.

I get the same rush coaching kids to learn for a debate as I did getting them ready for a show. I find the same rush teaching a bit of knitting to someone. I get a rush helping a teacher learn to work with technology or find a new way to teach their classes.

It is this idea that keeps me working as a mentor for the Bar Association. The Bar helps create an atmosphere that validates teachers by bringing in speakers and attorneys to generally help make a fuss over us. As a mentor, I get to help with that process. I make sure they are comfortable, learning from the speakers, and I help them craft a lesson plan for the Law Related Education library. That was this week's nerd camp. I was able to encourage young teachers and help to give a shot in the arm to more experienced teachers.

I need to remember that larger goal all the time. I need to remember it now when I am worn out and during the school year when I can't see out of the silly details of my job. Last week at the Institute wasn't always joyful. It was sometimes very frustrating. But I got a call today from a participant telling me she had never been so validated as a teacher, and thanking me for "forcing her to apply". So that's why I do this work.

I have at least one more story from this nerd camp and hopefully will get it done before I leave for my last trip--to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Unsure of the internet situation there, but we'll always have audio.

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