I am making a career pivot to teaching, largely as a result of Covid19 freezing my performing arts career. This transition is one that I am processing slower than the accelerated pace of my online masters program through Kansas State University.
These things take time.
However, as I am digesting writing and teaching philosophies, I return to a lesson I learned as a freshman writer. “We write to teach ourselves what we already know.” I know that, in a sense, I am already a teacher. My writing practice is internal lesson planning, the words pouring onto the page for the eyes of their prized pupil to take in.
I woke up today remembering my tutoring experience in high school. I volunteered to teach basic computer skills to a retiree through the Shepherd Center. They paired older adults with high school students and we tutored them at my school’s computer lab.
The lady I was paired with was a nun in her late 70’s. She wanted to learn to use the computer so that she could type up the religious poetry she wrote. She knew nothing of computers at all. She was a warm spirit, with a lighthearted kookiness about her. I taught her how to play solitaire to help her use the mouse. She was absolutely tickled by this game. It felt like a new adventure to her every week, sitting there, going through the steps to open the game and slowly dragging the cards to their rightful places. The joy of the cards of exploding when she won, made her laugh uproariously. She was always so gracious, thanking me profusely at the end of every session.
One day I came to the computer room, and she was showing a bit of plumber’s crack above her swishy tracksuit. I held my giggles in, unsure if I should address it, as she hollered “Annie how do you start this again?”
At dinner that night, I told my mom that Ms. Kurzweil, my student, was a bit of a character. She said, “Kurzweil. That’s your great grandma’s maiden name. Is this Anna Kurzweil?”
It turns out this character and I were related. I called my grandma and spoke to her about the family connection, gathered some family photos together, and brought them into our next tutoring session. I explained to her that she was actually my great aunt. I think she replied with something like “Oh, how nice.”
From then on, I called her Aunt Anna and we hugged goodbye after every meeting. On our last day together, she asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I love to perform and planned to pursue a career in acting. She told me, “Well you’d make a really great teacher.”