November 4, 2010

Learning to Lead

Ever have one of those days when people look at you and say, "what are you trying to teach me?" Now consider facing that question for four hours with eleven faces looking at you saying, "huh?" That was my class this morning. I wasn't getting my point across and the students were very confused.

Ultimately, I needed to present the content in a different way and it took all class for me to get the students where they needed to be. I never gave up but it was challenging for everyone in the room.

After class I was feeling crestfallen. Was I not doing a good job? To clear my head I went down to the UN Plaza for some sunshine and noticed that the weekly art fair was in full swing. A poet was writing spontaneous prose for $1 and I commissioned a piece inspired by the question, "How do you know when you are doing good work?" Here is what poet Pam wrote:

Good work is different than good works
True work comes from the soul,
the angels call that art,
but they spoke it in a long forgotten language
the one we forgot how to read
none of the children scribble it in coloring books

Don't forget you are doing art
making an experience uniquely yours
to whisper to the stars in the pantheon.

Amazing that Pam's poem so totally spoke to my situation. When she was done I told her how I am a teacher at the art school and that her poem lifted my spirits. Pam was totally jazzed.

After lunch I headed back to school to teach my next class which is in the same room as the previous course with many of the same students. I shared with them that I was feeling frustrated by the last class, not because of them but because we weren't connecting and I was feeling like I wasn't doing great work today. They all said, "awhhhh" and that they were sorry. Then I read them Pam's poem and they too thought it was amazing.

The rest of class was wonderful as they made team presentations on leadership. Last week they shared with me leaders whom they admire and I listened to why they felt that one of my teaching colleagues was an inspirational leader. It was because she treated them like adults and told them about real life situations. I took this to heart and took a chance to open up to them. In return they offered amazing support and demonstrated that they really are learning to lead.