One of the beauties of teaching

A year and half ago I left my  job as a University professor in Mexico to become a student in the masters in graphic design at NC State. During my time in the program, I’ve been learning a massive amount of information related to design research, design research methods, and design education/pedagogy. I feel like I’ve grown as a designer and as an individual. However, I feel this semester is special because besides preparing my thesis and taking classes, I’m also a teacher assistant (TA) for two undergrad courses related to design and technology in the College of Design. My TA experience made me realize how much I missed being a teacher and the kind of learning that comes from that. A specific type of learning that I was thinking of yesterday – or more than learning, a lesson that I shouldn’t be forgetting– is to be more self-reflective. When you are preparing a class, you have to review pieces of knowledge that you think you are an “expert” on, and acknowledge that there’s always something new that you might not explored enough. Then you have to create a layout for that information in a way that makes sense to someone that have never seen it, this is the hardest part, and the magic of teaching, it’s about empathy.

Unfortunately I’m not talking about empathy this time, that’s for some other blogpost. Today I’m being a little bit more selfish and thinking about the beauties of teaching for teachers. When I review the content of a class and I’m creating a layout on how to present it, I begin to think about that time when I used to do all these design decisions in a more conscious way (just like when you first learn how to drive). Then I look back to what I’m currently doing and see if I’m actually following my own directions for the class. This is the self-reflection moment I was talking about in the beginning of this post. I often find myself reviewing my work and finding out that I’m not quite applying from what I’m trying to communicate in class. So I readjust my design according to what I think I should be doing. It’s kind of a tune up or a way to keep up my own standards. Because, even though I see teaching as a rewarding activity where you see students acquiring new knowledge and the different ways in which that knowledge can be applied, I also see teaching as a way to remind ourselves that there’s always something that can be re-learned.