I spent the weekend with my children organizing holiday gifts for their teachers as tokens of our gratitude. However, what started as a small list seemed to grow exponentially as the weekend progressed. When I had originally thought of teachers, I was thinking the science teacher, the math teacher, etc. But my son son asked, “What about my baseball coach?” And then my daughter reminded me about the woman she paints with on the weekends. What soon became evident to me is that “teachers” do not just exist in the classroom. There are teachers in all facets of our lives.
This holiday shopping experience got me thinking about all the different types of teachers in my life who have helped me get where I am today. Below are a few examples.
Mentors advise us. They impart learning in an area in which they are typically an expert. We usually think of mentors as people we freely seek out. They are coaches who provide guidance on how to perform better. I have been fortunate to have many mentors in my life, but the one I remember the most is a woman I meet with periodically to discuss my career goals. She and I worked together on a few projects a while back, and since then she has continued to help me set goals and figure out ways to obtain them.
Traditional classroom teachers instruct us on how to do a particular task. They impart knowledge and/or skill. Most of us can think of at least one exceptional classroom teacher whose lessons we still remember today. I know I can. Hands down, it’s one of my professors from graduate school. His class was not one of those super-structured classes; rather, we spent most of our time discussing and contemplating different concepts and ideas. He asked us questions instead of the other way around. It was my first experience using the Socrates method.
Managers provide role models for us. They show us firsthand the desired performance, behavior, and skills we should strive to. Effective leaders target the hearts and minds of their team, so they’re successful at helping them reach their full potential.
Peers give us a vehicle to learn collaboratively. At ABR, collaboration is our modus operandi. We are in contact with each other ALL day long to discuss the many facets of our project work. When I’m stumped on something or simply need validation that my idea is a good one, I reach out to one of my ABR colleagues for help. They consistently offer me a different perspective to think about something, which provides a valuable learning opportunity.
As the holidays draw closer, think about all of the “teachers” in your life and consider how they have impacted and perhaps even changed you. Maybe there’s a tangible way you can show your appreciation, or even just a handwritten note expressing your thanks for the positive influence they have had on you. I’m sure they would love to know.