Learning to rock climb has made me a better preschool teacher. Learning makes better teachers, and it doesn’t matter what you learn. It is the learning itself.
You perhaps expect me to share about how climbing has refined my teacher-ly virtues like patience and persistence, but that is not my point here. Learning to climb has made me a better teacher because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. I don’t even know what it means when someone tells me what I should be doing. I’m clueless and skill-less, but I am busting with enthusiasm. I am, in other words, a toddler at the climbing gym. I would call it humbling, but that would suggest that I imagined for one second that I would be good at it.
I have learned a lot from observing my own feelings and behavior in this context. The other day a friendly lady at the gym, watching me struggle with a climb, said, “Well, it was really pumpy!”. Now, I have no idea what she means by that, but do I say “What do you mean”? or “what is this ‘pumpy’ of which you speak”? No, I respond with a hearty “Oh, yeah, really, really pumpy!”, and then Google the term when I get home. I repeated the new term and tried to fit in, having no idea what I was saying. Realizing that made it less funny the next time a child used a word incorrectly with me. When I struggle, I find myself comparing myself to other climbers and (in my head) whining about why it’s not fair. I hurt myself over-reaching, I rush to try new things, and when I do master a new skill, I feel like everyone ought to stop what they are doing and cheer.
When I fell in love with climbing, I did not anticipate that I would be making myself a pre-schooler a few hours a week, but I am so glad I have. May you each find your own area of joyful ineptitude!