We’re one day into the DPL conference in Vancouver. In my writing track we’ve already created a collaborative poem about teaching, talked about audiences and challenged our assumptions about what is good writing. Inspired by our homework yesterday (to write a short story about teaching) and the poem, I decided to ask some colleagues and friends for their teaching stories. As I thought about how to prompt them for what kind of story to tell, I asked myself, what is one of the fundamental outcomes of teaching that I value the most? What I came up with was the potential of teaching and learning to shift our beliefs and create change. So I asked my colleagues: tell me about a time a teaching/learning experience changed how you thought about something?

Here’s the first in a series of stories:

“When I was 18 and first started journalism school, my favorite professor would always tell us tons of personal stories–he had so much experience as a journalist, he always had the best stories. He had this rocking chair in his office, and I’d just show up there and sit in this chair and listen to his stories about being a journalist. He was really the only reason I could get though that degree and finish journalism school. So one time, he was talking about when he was getting ready to go up to a remote part of Northen Canada for a week to cover a story and he was just dreading it. He talked about how, leading up to the trip, he was fantasizing about getting hit by a car — not to get seriously injured, but just a little so that he wouldn’t be able to go on the trip. And of course that didn’t happen–he went on the trip, and reported the story and it was all fine. What was so powerful about this story for me was that it was the first time I realized that grown ups, professional adults with important jobs, could have feelings. They could be scared, they could have fears and apprehensions, and anxieties. That it wasn’t some kind of weakness or character flaw, but that everyone felt that way sometimes. That being an adult doesn’t mean that you have it all figured out and you’re never scared, but what it means is that you just still go out and do your job anyways. I keep this with me to this day in my current job as a lawyer–when I have to go argue a hard case or do something difficult, I remember that prof and I just go do it anyways. And it always works out fine.”

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