My primary role during these last few days of work turns out to be that of teacher, a role which I usually attempt to shy away from. As a child, my main ambition was to be a teacher, and it was one of the games I most often played – using my dolls and stuffed animals for students. Of course they were the perfect subjects, being completely attentive and receptive to all the knowledge I imparted so eagerly. My dog Ginger presented the only behavior problem in the classroom, but she was easily pacified with a Milk Bone so we could get on with the lesson.
When I got to college and did a little practice teaching in a real live classroom, I was quickly disabused of my idealism. Nobody sat raptly awaiting my pearls of wisdom. I decided I didn’t have the patience or the confidence for teaching. Of course, I’ve ended up working a good part of my life in classrooms, but I was never the one in charge, and that suited me just fine.
But the past couple of weeks, I’ve been teaching my replacement all the ins and outs of this job I’ve been doing for the past 10 years. It’s a detail intensive position, and it’s a daunting task to articulate all the parts of this process. But I’ve finally been granted a student who is nearly as receptive as those stuffed animals lined up on the sofa. The young woman who was hired to replace me is bright, personable, and interested in the job. She’s a quick study, a fast worker, and an absolute joy to teach.
“Ohhh, I get it!” she’ll say with a big smile.
“Now it makes sense!” she exclaims.
Music to a teacher’s ears.
Even better, she’s already looking for ways to improve things.
“Would it be alright if I tried something?” she’ll ask, and start whisking away at my messy Excel spreadsheet, improving it tenfold in the space of five minutes. Even though I’ve told her to streamline and reorganize as she sees fit, she’s careful not to overstep and is always sensitive to my feelings about the process I’ve used for so long.
I still think I made the right decision when I transferred out of the school of elementary education in college. But it’s fun having a “dream student” at least once in my life – especially one I don’t have to ply with Milk Bones.