We meet in a room at Strongbox West, a co-working complex down the road from Octane and Georgia Tech on the Westside of Atlanta. The walls at Strongbox are covered with bright spots of paint and creative art, there’s an arcade in the works downstairs, and people mingle and meet. I’m energized as I find my spot at the table and fire up my laptop.
During the day, I teach a lot of really smart and funny 14-year olds. Most of them, after being told for almost half a teen’s lifetime that they are gifted—believe it. Believe it hard. Believe it so much that they think “learning” for them should never come in the same sentence as “work.” But there comes a point in the school year, every year when we get to something harder than they’ve seen in a while.
“I don’t get it.” “Woah, this is hard.” “Huh?” “I’m just not good at this.”
I tell them to sit “in it” a minute and feel the pain of not getting it—because that’s a sign that big learning is about to happen. That painful spot is about to muscle up. The most important thing is that you give yourself grace along the way.
I became a teacher because words can build, destroy, and change lives. I believe by teaching people how to share their own stories and connect with others’ stories, I can change lives. I had an idea for an educational app a while back, and someone asked, “Well, can you build it?” At the time, I had little idea how, but I determined I would.
So, here I am almost halfway finished with my own journey with Tech Talent South. Each night has been like a door to an entire world opening: I walk in, explore a little, dream of the possibilities, and spend a while sitting “in it.” Then, I come back for another night and an entirely new door of possibilities. And like my students, sometimes. . .
Yeah, I don’t get it. Yes… and woah! This is hard. Huh? Mmmhmmm.
But, I will be good at this.
Because on average, it takes 14-times practicing something to own it and much longer than that to be pro. Until then, and even then, I hope that I continue to learn, explore those open doors, and give myself grace along the way.