Bringing Out the Teacher in You
Updated: Aug 26, 2022
I love to teach! I enjoy taking a difficult topic and explaining it in a way that people can understand.
This fascination has been a part of me since my childhood—the idea of helping and relating with others. It’s the same whether I am telling a story or reciting poetry in front of a crowd.
For me, it’s about the connection with my audience. On a basic level, I see teaching as a way to transfer my enthusiasm about a topic over to the people I am trying to reach.
I have enjoyed teaching medical students, nurses, and patients. It’s the live interaction—being right there in the moment, helping change a confused look into one of understanding. When it comes to patients, it can be a part of a safe discharge process, for example.
I remember once when I was at Book Expo America (BEA) in Washington, D.C. My book distributor invited me to be a part of the children’s author booth. I didn’t know that it was a first-come, first-served setup: Whoever showed up first had the opportunity to have the best position in the booth.
On the first day, I happened to show up late. The early birds got the worm, and I was left with a small space at the end of the table. At first I didn’t see any good thing about the situation. But I realized that it was all about the connection to the thousands of people who were attending BEA and walking by the authors’ booth.
They wanted the info on my book. I showed enthusiasm. It would have been much harder to sell these people on a product that I showed no enthusiasm about.
After graduating from college, I visited a medical school for an admissions interview. I went to the school the night before, and I met faculty members from the school. I also attended a medical school dinner with other staff and a third-year medical student.
At the end of the evening, the medical student asked me, “Do you have any hobbies?”
I spoke matter-of-factly. “I like writing stories and essays.”
“What kind of stories?”
“Mostly science fiction,” I replied.
“Well, you’re going to have to come up with some hobbies by tomorrow for the interview!”
In that moment, I was stunned. I had answered his question. I told him what my hobby was, and I specified it further when asked.
I went back to my hotel room and slept on it. By the time I woke up in the morning and started getting ready for my interview, I realized what the student had meant. I had not shown any enthusiasm when I told him about my hobby—my passion for writing.
When I got to my interviews—I had two of them—I enthusiastically engaged each interviewer.
One of them asked me to talk about my hobbies. When I infused the conversation with my genuine enthusiasm, I was able to answer the questions and make a connection. I taught him of my love and motivation for writing. When I use this definition of teaching, I realize that I am a teacher. I don’t always have to teach in a classroom.
I have three older sisters who are teachers. The fact that I am a physician doesn’t take away from my ability to teach what I know and express myself with enthusiasm.
At one time or another, most of us are asked to teach someone, or we find ourselves in that role.
The topic that we end up teaching may not be one that ignites a passion within us. In those situations, I embrace my love for people and connections. I get through those more mundane topics.
But when I have a topic that gives me enthusiasm, I embrace it even more. Sometimes it’s a part of my responsibility to teach. It could occur in a classroom or some other setting, but it’s great when I also have the opportunity to express myself on a topic that I enjoy.
On your job, there are likely many sources of knowledge, and you are one of them. You have the ability to connect to others regarding topics you know about—and with enthusiasm.
What area are you most enthusiastic about, and what do you enjoy about teaching?