Mike the Teacher

Did you ever find one day that the person you’ve become is somewhat unexpected?

I’ve known for quite some time what I’m all about, but it’s interesting when someone else puts it so plainly into words for you.


A few weeks ago, I found myself at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop one evening.

I tend to bounce between a few different locations to write so that my routine never gets stale. Typically, I’ll order my iced coffee (medium, double-double), sit down, and let the magic happen. Sometimes I write, sometimes I plan, but I always try to keep moving Evolving Architect forward.
That night, after writing away for several hours, working on what was becoming a positively epic blog post (what I described last week as my ‘top-secret ninja guest post’), a small figure walked over to where I had been sitting and inquired, “Are you a student?”
My ‘fan’ was a little, older lady who I had seen a few minutes prior sit down with her husband after ordering some coffee. As she returned from the restroom to her seat, she greeted me and asked her question.
I was taken aback for two reasons. One, I didn’t really think of myself as a ‘student’ anymore; at least not in the sense that she implied. Two, no one ever really talks to me when I’m out writing (probably because of what she said next).
Caught off guard, I quickly responded, “Uh… No, actually I teach on the side.”
“Oh, I see. You looked very intense,” she replied, noting the piles of paper and books that had accumulated at my table.
I laughed. (I would have said that I chuckled, but I never liked the word)
“Just trying to help how I can,” I said shortly thereafter.
“That’s wonderful. Good luck,” she replied with a small grin on her face. She continued walking and sat down to enjoy the rest of her coffee.


After I had a moment to process what had just happened, it dawned on me that what I was doing in that coffee shop represented, in part, who I had become. Granted, I wasn’t the student that she took me for, but I’m always learning. And I’m not just learning to better myself, I’m learning to help others.

I've had aspirations to teach for as long as I can remember (especially at a college level), but I've never thought of myself as an actual teacher before. The things I bring to the table with my writing aren't always the best that they could be, but they come from the best parts of me.
When I think about the lessons I’ve learned as an architect, I can’t help but remember all the times I wished that someone was there to guide me. Now, being on the other side of it, knowing that there are people out there looking to me to be that person, I am truly humbled.
Whether I had ever intended it or not, I’ve taken on the role of teacher, and I’m very happy that’s the case. It's not a formal title, but a description and mindset that matters to me.

The fact that you're reading this hopefully means that I'm doing something right, something helpful, something good.


Did you ever come to a realization about yourself before?

Sometimes it’s easy to miss the accomplishments that we’ve made, the obstacles that we’ve overcome, and the impact we’ve had. Who were you five years ago? Who are you today? Who do you want to be?

Ask a few questions like these and I bet the answers will surprise you.

Michael LaValley

Buffalo, NY