There I was, buck naked with nothing but a luxurious towel wrapped around me. I needed to take a shower before our meeting at the hotel started. Simple, right? If you are a frequent guest at five-star hotels, you won't relate to the following story. But, this was my first time.
I tried to study the fancy knobs to see how the shower worked. How hard could it be? I tugged and turned and pushed and pulled some knobs. Nothing happened. After several minutes, I felt pretty dumb! I attempted to turn on the shower one more time. Quite on accident, water started to come out of the shower head. I still don't know what combination of a push, pull and turn that I did to get it to work finally. I stepped inside. Luckily, I figured out the temperature control, but the amount of water coming out was less than what I expected. I remember thinking, "This isn't a 'luxurious shower experience.'" Somewhat blindly, I fiddled with a few more knobs and was surprised when a fire hose pressure stream of water came out from the side of the wall into my face! Between sputtering and laughing at myself, I was eventually able to shower.
After showering, I had the opposite problem of figuring out how to turn everything off. How hard could it be? Once again, I started to play with the knobs, dials, and switches. I couldn't get the water to turn off! The thought of leaving the water running did cross my mind. It was then that I noticed a sign in the shower that said, "Call this number for assistance." I started to laugh! Sure! Really? People call for help when they're naked? I couldn't believe that I couldn't figure out how to work a dumb shower! Finally, with enough twisting of dials, the water turned off! Whew! My embarrassment would stay a secret forever!
I quickly got ready for the day and left to go to our leadership training. Before our day of meetings, we gathered in a dining area for breakfast. At first, there was small talk and pleasantry. Then one of the other guests whispered that she had to go to her colleagues room and help her turn off the shower. I started giggling and related my experience as well. Someone heard us talking about the shower and added that they finally called for assistance to turn on the shower. Conversations about the showering experience popped up all over the dining room, and everyone was rolling with laughter. Some had steam showers, some had cold showers, one person gave up and didn't shower. Everyone had a story to tell.
Sometimes as educators, we think that our experience is unique. We think that we're the only one that makes a mistake, or doesn't understand something, or has a lesson that completely flops. In reality, it's a shared experience! When we share our experiences, we not only find the humor in teaching, but we can also learn from each other. We often share our successes because we want to be seen as competent educators. But, I think that maybe we should share our "dumb moments," our flops, and even our failures more often. If we could all be a little more transparent, a little more vulnerable, maybe we could learn some valuable lessons too. And laugh!