For about 10 years I’ve taught adults about managing money as the central part of my job. I’ve loved it completely — teaching is incredibly fulfilling and creative for me. I’ve created the curricula and materials and developed the flow the the classes — including lots of laughter and compassion, but very little “you shoulds” and no judgment.
In the last few years, several things began to shift. The agency I work for has grown in response to the increased need for our services as well as high-quality management and the excellence of our work with clients.
me teaching in 2001
So, these days I have a staff. It’s been a gradual growth for my department, first one educator, who was already experienced, then others with different experience, and finally a new instructor, who is incredibly smart and quick, but hasn’t taught at all in this kind of setting.
It took me awhile to come to grips with the changing needs of my position. Part of that lack was because of Dennis’ death last fall and my subsequent lack of focus on work. Part of it is resistance to the change. As I said, I’ve loved teaching adults about money. I didn’t want to stop doing that. However, the demands of department administration, community obligations, and senior management were leaving me stretched in too many directions.
With none of my activities getting all the attention they deserved, my wonderful staff was being left too much to their own devices. No discipline issues or problems — they are all amazing, self-reliant and dedicated people — but they simply didn’t have enough of my support and attention for their professional development.
Since I believe so strongly that happiness is largely a choice and we can train ourselves to be happy, I started looking for how to make this necessary transition a positive one for us all. And I found the answer.
I’m no longer primarily a teacher of students, I am now mostly a teacher of teachers. It sounds very simple but it’s a bit magical too. I’m largely self-taught, with no academic credentials but gobs of experience. Transmitting the skills I developed intuitively over the years is a fascinating process.
In a way, I’m deconstructing myself. I’ll teach a segment of a class to my staff (one or several) and then process what I did and why. It’s sometimes about body language, or word choice. Sometimes about pacing and emphasizing certain content points. I’ll talk about the depth of knowledge behind a simple statement and how that knowledge informs the confidence with which I speak. I can analyze and transmit the path I took to reach an approach and we’ll discuss options for making the class their own.
It is so much fun! My staff is happier and more confident (I think) and I have a new peace as I face reams of data and reporting because I know my experience and joy in teaching is spreading out there, one instructor at a time.