Perhaps you can recall teachers who have made a significant impact on your life, someone who reminded you or taught you something of significance. It might have been new information, such as from a scholastic experience; it might have been a mature relative, such as a grandmother or grandfather; it could also be that of a spiritual teacher, minister or counselor. We assign the "label" of teacher to people like this but we rarely consider the fact that we are each a teacher and a student as we journey through our life experiences.
For those of us who chose to be parents, we want to believe that we are the teachers when in fact, many times, we are the student if we are paying attention. Children offer immediate feedback to us because they truly are the mirrors that tell us a lot about ourselves. Then there are the teachers that are like finger nails on a chalk board. And of course, there are the "teachers" who drive with us on our roads, or stand in the long holiday lines at stores or block our path down an isle because they might be distracted looking for that special gift for someone they love. We are also blessed to have friends and family as teachers and I will allow for all of us to consider the deepest meaning of that idea!!!
I always wanted to believe that teaching involved positive, uplifting kinds of things: new information, insights, skills, directions, etc. What I have found is that teaching and learning is more about edgy kinds of things because being a student requires a willingness to learn new things, to be self reflective without being overly critical of ourselves. The truth is, few of us want to change. Teaching also requires that we offer what we know with loving kindness and assume that when the student is ready what we have shared might one day be absorbed...which turns the teacher into a student. We teach by example more than by word. We learn from example more than from lecture. What I have learned is that when the discomfort scrapes hard enough at my soul, I become the humble student. During this holiday season, let us all be humble willing students and wise patient teachers. We have so much to gain from letting these two roles shake hands and partner us into a better life.