The start of the school year is overrun with beginnings. At the basest level, it’s the beginning of a group of people joining together for the first of 180 days dedicated to the idea that they will be learning from one another in their time together and each person seeking to find his or her place in the mix.
This convening makes me think of two things. The first is the invocation profered by Ze Frank as he launched his newest incarnation of show. It includes some language I’d save for high school students, but that is entirely appropriate for faculties starting this journey together.
The second is a video clip I showed initially to my storytelling class and eventually to all of my students. Part of a set of four clips from an interview with Ira Glass, the clip was meant as a tutorial on storytelling for the now-defunct Current TV. I keep Glass’s words with me whenever I start something new as a reminder that my ability and my taste will start further apart than I’d care to admit and that I need to work at whatever the thing is to bring my ability closer to my taste.
While teaching isn’t exactly the same as storytelling, the rule stands, and when you stand amongst whomever you’re charged with helping to find the better versions of themselves, your taste and your ability in that act will be further apart than you’d like.
They always, always, always were when I was working with students, and they continue to be when I work with adult students. One of many keys on the chain of improvement is trying again the next day after realizing the crap you created the day before. You learn from the crap, try to make better crap the next day, and don’t let what should be learning start to feel like failure. Showing up is a starting point for success.