Teacher Becomes The Student

College is over! I’m done with exams, essays, and studying. I’ve officially left the classroom right? Wrong. From the moment I entered Pre Service Orientation in September I knew there would be so much more to learn before this service year was up. It was just the beginning. The National Health Corps AmeriCorps program prepared me to go out into the world of healthcare and service with more of an open mind than I had before.

At first, I was a little overwhelmed with all of the information being presented to us at orientation.I thought there was no way all of this will ever be useful, how am I even going to remember all of this let alone put it to practice. I quickly realized that while I was preparing to be a health educator at The Sulzbacher Shelter, I would first have to be a student again.
The trainings I received were specifically designed to broaden my horizons and change my perception of a lot of views I once had, especially in morals and ethics and how to react and respond in a variety of situations. I learned so much more about not only my position and expectations, but also about myself - who I am as an individual. I became much more aware of my personal strengths and weaknesses, teaching methods, and even my own listening and interpretation skills and habits. If I wanted to successfully make a difference in my service year, I would have to make some changes in myself, starting by being more adaptable to changes. I would have to make this adjustment sooner than I thought.

The structured trainings were only the beginning of my learning journey; the next part was learning to fight on the battlefield. While assisting residents of the shelter, I quickly learned that there was going to be a lot more training I had to do for myself. They didn’t have “how to be a health educator for dummies”, so I got to work doing my own research. Part of my description is assisting residents in life-skills education: how to use the computer, create a resume, find a job, and prepare for GED tests. Maybe I should brush up on those skills first before I try and help others. It was back to the books again, this time out of desperation. Our program made sure we were prepared to give factual information to our clients and helped us understand that it’s okay to admit that you don’t know everything-a humbling realization for me. I knew I would have to put aside my pride in order to provide these people with the education that they deserved.

I started learning more about job searching and resume building right alongside my clients. I made sure my math tutoring sessions were a team effort, and I asked more questions than I gave answers to. It felt a little shameful to not have known all of this information before, but I was prepared to adapt and ready to learn as much as I could. The formal trainings I received were helpful, but more importantly, they prepared me to go into this service year with more questions than answers. I’ve learned more from just talking to clients about their past and experiences than I could have ever learned in a classroom. I became a helper and a supporter rather than an authority figure, sharing information with people and being receptive to things they knew more about than I did. If there's one piece of advice I can give to the next health educator: Don’t be the teacher, be the student.








This blog post was written by NHC FL AmeriCorps member, Becca Cetta. 

Becca serves at I.M. Sulzbacher as a Health Educator.