One month ago, I became a teacher, in the legitimate sense of the word, when I walked into a conference room in Santiago, Chile, and saw a group of business professionals waiting to learn English. We said hello and that marked the extent of the language we shared until I started teaching. Progress was about to become audible and visible and believable.
I learned what it meant to teach, in the purest sense of the word, 18 years ago in Mrs. Mell’s eighth grade advanced English classroom at Corte Madera School in Portola Valley, a small suburb of San Francisco or San Jose, depending on how you look at the map. Progress may have been less literal during any given hour of instruction, but by the end of the year, I was still able to speak an entirely new language.
At the time, I already loved to read. I already had an idea that I could find something in books by L.M. Montgomery, Judy Blume, Christopher Pike, and V.C. Andrews that I couldn’t find in real life. What I didn’t yet know was that there was a way to critically think about and discuss books and real life in such a way that we as readers could articulate the connections we sensed were there all along. Mrs. Mell would change that.