Now that I'm in college do I get to call you John? I like how that sounds. Hey John, I think you're being too hard on yourself. I know you spoke at conferences and led trainings and all of that. I think you're afraid that people might consider you a phony. You mentioned that you get impatient. You talk about having projects that failed. However, you are not Gilderoy Lockhart and you never were. You never pretended to be anything more than you were. You were a humble teacher. I remember you saying that sometimes you get angry and sometimes you shame kids and all of that. But I never saw that. You were Lupin, teaching us the defense against the dark arts (in our case AIMS and shallow thinking) and letting us see the boogie man was a boggart. You knew that there was the werewolf inside of you, but you were teaching us well and fighting for the Order of Phoenix. That was you, helping us see that from the ashes something healing can happen. Thanks.
I re-read the e-mail. I still have moments when I feel like a fraud. I still feel like I get impatient. I've had times a few years back when I yelled. But maybe he's right. Maybe I'm not a phony, because I've apologized.
A student stops by this morning and asks if we can talk about a math word problem from yesterday.
"Mr. Spencer, I think it was an unfair problem," he says nervously.
"Well, I'm a 49ers fan, too. However, asking us to compare the passing percentage of Rodgers and Smith wasn't fair. The Niners have the best defense in the league and the Packers have no defense at all."
I nod my head and say, "You're right. I wrote a bad problem. You're absolutely right. I'm sorry."
"Thanks," he says.
That interaction has me thinking of the e-mail from this morning. Maybe I'm not Gilderoy Lockhart. I think again about Professor Remus Lupin. He was humble and grateful and approachable as a teacher. He made class interactive and meaningful. Students saw that the subject mattered while he taught it. If that's how a former student sees me, I can't think of too many better compliments.
I hate to admit that I need that affirmation. A part of me wants to say I can see myself objectively. However, I can't. Up until this week, I saw myself as just treading water. Now I realize that I'm swimming and that I'm loving it. I don't have to be perfect. I don't have to wear a mask. I'm doing okay and I'm having a blast in the process.
It's good to be back.
photo credit: andy castro via photo pin cc