On being a teacher

I honestly didn’t know I had it in me to be a teacher. Teaching is standing in front of a classroom, surely? It’s exams and text books and grading. It’s what people with The Knowledge do and for the longest time I felt I had no knowledge. I had nothing to share. Yet I’m sitting here putting the finishing touches to my newest course — I am so proud of this one, I think it might be my best — and preparing the space for two more of my babies, and it just hit me that I am, in fact, a teacher.

Who knew?

I’ve been doing this running-of-courses thing for four years now (four!) and with every year that passes I get better at doing it. I know how to make an ecourse awesome. I know how to share information in a way that’s inspiring and encouraging. I know how to build online community. I know how to decant my passions into a course format and share them with others in a way that makes sense. And I really love doing it. I love writing and creating and sharing.

I still have wobbly moments when I wonder who am I to be teaching. But then I remind myself that I’m not teaching quantum physics or cake decorating, two subjects that are equally baffling to me :) No, I’m teaching the stuff that I know inside out. I’m also sharing the contents of my heart, I realised, as I wrote deeper into the journalling course.

When I was studying photography at college 20 years ago I had no idea that something called the internet would be invented, and digital cameras, and phones with cameras (how Buck Rogers is that?). When I was working as a journalist I didn’t know my writing skillz would eventually be shared on the internet for all to see (and without an editor, no less!) When I was healing my way through loss I didn’t know that the lessons I was learning, the unravelling I was doing, would be worth sharing with other women years later. On the internet.

It’s funny how things work out.

I honestly don’t take any of this for granted. I sometimes wonder what I’d be doing now if I hadn’t started a blog in 2006. That blog was the beginning of so much — it’s probably just as well I didn’t know that at the time. The other day someone asked me what I did for a living, and I ummed and ahhed as I usually do, because I never know how to explain what I do. But then I smiled and simply said: I write, I take photographs and I teach.

I think it’s time for me to claim the teaching thing. Which I guess makes this my coming out post ;-)


The spring sessions of Unravelling and Photo Meditations both start on Monday — I’ll leave registration open till Saturday in case you’d like to join us. Journal Your Life will run again in the summer xo

26 responses
  1. lisa field-elliot

    i love you, baby.

  2. Aimee

    i love visiting your space and reading your words. you are appreciated! thank you for sharing the contents of your heart.

  3. L.McG.-E.

    Yay for owning your teaching. And thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. ellie

    Hey Susannah, I took one of your courses about three years ago and remember thinking what a good teacher you were and writing a list of things that I thought made a great teacher – a bit strange (!) but I was thinking about becoming a teacher at the time and was feeling inspired. Since then I have become a teacher, for little people, and it was such a good decision for me. I wanted to let you know that you played a part in that : )

  5. susannah

    Oh, Ellie, I love that!!

  6. kira

    I have to say you are a great teacher too. I have now taken one of your e-courses and that was great but I have to say your teaching really came through in your book for me. Your book taught me so much and helped me navigate through the first year of losing my best friend and son’s father. All of your work, has helped me finally embrace who I am as a writer and artist and take steps to claim my life for myself. I will for sure take your journaling class this summer. So thank you for being a great teacher.

  7. Carin

    Yay for owning being a teacher! And I so needed to hear this today as I’m hoping to launch my own course next year and am full of insecurities..

  8. jane

    you shoulda asked me… i knew that already <3 you are SO a teacher <3

  9. Sarah

    I never thought I’d would end up teaching either – I previously worked in journalism as well. Now that I’ve been doing it for a few months I’m surprised with how much I love it.

  10. Sara

    Susannah…you are not only a teacher, but a sage who bravely witnesses her life for others, so that others may connect and learn from you and your pain as well as your happiness. Thank you <3

  11. Stacey

    How lucky we all are that you have come in to all your teacher wonderfulness! You are a gifted teacher indeed. Isn’t it funny when we realize that we are doing just what we should be doing at that very moment?

  12. Joolz

    :) (((hugs)))

  13. anne holloway

    you are a gorgeous woman who touches a lot of people – thank goodness you are in our world

  14. La plume et la page

    Teaching is not easy. I give polish courses every week and standing in front of people is strange. I don’t feel like a teacher…

  15. Gerri Smalley

    From one teacher to another… you’re phenomenal baby!

  16. Vicki

    Susannah, you are an inspiring teacher. Caring, compassionate. You know how to get to the heart and motivate and you are actually along for the ride with us. I have taken a number of online classes that have left me cold with teachers who really didn’t care too much about their course. You put yourself out there, and I appreciate it. Your classes always push me to dig and delve. Thank you so very much! Peace, Vicki

  17. Kristen Cochran

    How totally refreshing you are.

  18. KaTe

    I’m an infant school teacher and understand how loaded the word ‘teacher’ can feel. It took me a long time to accept that I was a teacher, that I was good at it, and to feel comfortable with that. I’ve come across at lot of people who use their status as a ‘teacher’ as a badge of authority and as a place from which to wield power. I’ve also come across many who embrace teaching for what it truly is- the guiding, nurturing and opening of doors to self-confidence, curiosity and wonder. Having taken Unravelling last autumn, I know that you’re one of life’s natural teachers. :)

  19. Joy @ Joyfully Green

    Glad to have found your blog through Rowdy Kittens. I am loving your guide to 2013 and can’t wait to work my way through it!

  20. Misch

    I feel like you’ve taught me so much already! I also found you through Rowdy Kittens when Tammy mentioned your workbook late last year. Doing your workbook was a great eye opener for me and made me realise what I have achieved and what I can do. I started reading your blog and books and was instantly drawn to your writing and photos, maybe becoming a little (too) addicted. Your honesty and the way you make words sing make me feel so inspired to write and capture my own life. And I totally sound like a broken record, but I can’t say it enough, I’m really geek excited to do Unravelling :)
    Take care always xox

  21. TERRI

    Susannah, as an adult educator by profession and someone who has done a number of courses with you: you are an absolutely awesome teacher in every way. For all my 25+ years experience in the field, you have taught me an incredible amount that continues to resonate. You can more than claim it, I say. You can trailblaze a new paradigm xo

  22. susannah

    wow, thank you for that, Terri! xx

  23. susannah

    geek excited sounds good to me, love! :D

  24. Melissa

    without question you are a teacher– add mentor and role model to that. you wouldn’t have the response from your readers that you do… and i surely wouldn’t have taken 3/5 courses already. can’t wait to take ‘journal your life’ next… you should even think of combining some of them into a travelling workshop that we can attend for a weekend ;) (by that i mean you travel to different cities and we attend) it would surely sell out fast. xo

  25. Kathryn

    you truly deserve the title, you’re a brilliant teacher, Susannah.

  26. Lisa Dabbs

    Susannah…you are an inspiration! Bought your book and gave it to my neighbor who lost her son in a car accident last year. Have followed you for about 3 years and found you through one of the lovelies that are connected to you. Will be signing up for your blogging course tomorrow. Your vid for the lovely Amanda at Kind over Matter, brought tears to my eyes. As a former teacher, school principal and now indie consultant, I’m eager to take my blog to a deeper level. I want to grow it like a lovely flower yet to bloom. ((hugs)) from LA.

Comments are closed.