Through a Glass Darkly for Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012

Standing in front of a classroom when you can tell the students have locked into a lecture is an exhilarating experience.

Hearing them articulate comments or questions that let you know their minds have been stimulated is even more satisfying.

Seeing students then apply what they have learned is what rewards teachers for the hours of preparation that go into the job.

Teaching and coaching rank not too far behind parenting among the most gratifying roles I’ve undertaken.

All of those roles require patience and sometimes result in frustration, but they also prove rewarding.

What can be just as pleasing as the immediate results seen in the classroom or on the field of play is something that comes later.

Emails or visits from former students to tell you your class made a difference lets you know your efforts were worthwhile.

So does having a young man who still calls you “coach” use something he learned from sports or just reminisce about the joys of playing ball.

Though I somehow found the patience to coach teenagers in baseball, I don’t think I have the patience to teach middle school all day the way my wife does.

Teaching a college course on news gathering and news writing seems to be the perfect fit for me.

Different people have the abilities to deal effectively with different ages. Working with the right age group is one of the keys to enjoying teaching or coaching.

I might do well with my own grandchildren, but trying to teach a room full of preschoolers would soon have me sticking crayons in my own ears.

Another key is teaching or coaching the right subject.

Asking me to teach an advanced math class would be like asking someone to teach a foreign language they don’t know. It might be possible to stay one chapter ahead of the students, but trying to answer any questions that begin with “why” would be futile.

Coaching baseball was a natural for me, coaching basketball made me feel pressed and coaching any other major sport would result in me being tackled or put in the penalty box by my own players.

Teaching a subject that’s been my evolving profession for more than 40 years leaves me able to answer not only the “how” but also most of the “why” questions.

For people who know and have a passion for a subject, I recommend considering trying to pass it on to those who want to learn.

The route may be through a second career, a part-time job or volunteer work.

Even if done for pay, the hours of preparation may not yield minimum wage.

The reward comes from something other than any money involved.

Advocate Florida Parishes bureau chief Bob Anderson welcomes comments by email to banderson@ theadvocate.com.