Telling personal stories while trying to teach a class can make you feel vulnerable, especially if you are like me and don’t like to talk about your past or the people that helped to create that past.
I was told to do a class on heat and cold injuries in front of my peers. I was informed of this a month ago. I am a procrastinator, this is what I am and I am not proud of it. So, like most people who procrastinate, I put it off until the very last minute and then ran myself crazy trying to put it together.
Death by PowerPoint; this is was not my intentions at all. I was originally told that I could get up in front of the class and do it but, a few days before the class I was informed that it had to be a power point. I freaked! I freaked because I had no earthly idea on how to even get started, I freaked because I hadn’t even studied on the class, I freaked because I was going to be put to shame in front of all of my peers. It was going to be a wreck and I felt like I had no control of anything.
The day before the class, I drove down to meet a friend who helped me work through it. I had built my power point while making the long drive to see her. It was something that I threw together but it looked good. After receiving her help and the help of another friend, who I luckily ran into, I made the long drive back.
During my drive, I started thinking about something that I had learned during a course I had recently taken. Anytime, that you are supposed to teach a class, it is better to start off with something personal; a personal experience. I was bad at letting people in and talking about my personal life. I thought real hard and decided to tell a story about my sister and I and our trip to California with my dad. This was my exact words:
“I am going to tell you a story, a personal story, I ask that you listen to this story and then listen to the class that I am about to give. At the end of this class, I will ask you what could have been done differently and what was wrong with the individual. My parents were divorced when I was four and for whatever reason, my dad decided to take my sister and I to California in the dead of winter. We had no money and nowhere to go. We were driving through Arizona, and if anyone knows anything about Arizona, you should know that in the desert it gets extremely cold at night. Well, the car started to mess up so my dad pulled over on the side of the road as the car died. He wrapped my sister and I in blankets and lots of clothing that he could find within the car. His intentions were to keep us as warm as he possibly could. About an hour later, he finally got the car to start and he fell asleep with the heater running. My sister, who must have been about six at the time, started to sweat so she did what most people do when they get hot, she took all the clothing off of her. My dad at the time was a smoker, so the window was left rolled down and the car eventually died again. For whatever reason, my dad woke in the middle of the night to find my sister shivering, she felt like eyes and he couldn’t wake her up. He grabbed her from the car, wrapped her in a blanket, and with me in tote, ran to the nearest store to get help.”
The classroom fell silent. I looked around because I thought I had done something wrong. I noticed a few of them had this emotional look on their face as though they couldn’t imagine what that was like. I had never told any of my peers anything about me, I was always too ashamed and here I was letting go of a bit of that information that I had tried so hard to keep from them. I didn’t do it for pity, I did it because I thought it would go great with what I was about to teach and that it would cause them to think about the consequences of not knowing what to do or how to handle yourself in those situations.
After I was done with the class, one individual piped up and said, “I know what was wrong with your sister and what should have been done!” She proceeded to tell me and then the other class members started to chime in.
I had did it! A feeling of satisfaction had filled my body. I used something that I had learned and made the class interesting. There were people that were actually paying attention. I was told later that I had done an excellent job and that by telling a story at the beginning, made the class more interesting because everyone was trying to figure out what had happened to my sister. I was a freaking genius!
If I could take anything from this experience, It would be that sometimes you have to be vulnerable to no longer feel vulnerable. I went from not opening up, to telling a personal story, to the gratification of knowing I did an excellent job on it.