Be the Learner and Not the Expert

As you know, I’ve been teaching for Penn State in a part-time role for over 12 years. Recently I took on more responsibilities and a leadership role that put me in a category of “new faculty.” Penn State therefore enrolled me in all the new faculty orientation programs. So I decided to attend all week long even though I’ve been part of the PSU community for over a decade.

A colleague laughed when I told her I was attending all the new faculty meetings. I’m a rule follower, so I wanted to to the right thing and abide by the technical rules of Penn State.

And guess what? When you attend meetings as a learner and not the expert, you learn. You feel delighted to be there. You make new connections. I already know 90% of what the orientation covered, but the 10% I didn’t know felt like little golden treasures. I learned some new technology to use for my classroom, for example. And today, I’m in meeting about academic freedom and free speech in a college classroom. There’s always more to learn about that.

Living with flair means you don’t act like things are beneath you or that you don’t need to learn something new. It means you attend meetings as a learner, even if you might be the expert. 

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