From an early age, 3rd grade to be exact, I knew that I wanted to be a teacher. I won a school wide reading contest and got to be a teacher-for-a-day at my elementary school. I still have a picture of myself, dressed up to look more like a teacher, at least to my 3rd grade self, diligently hunched over the teacher’s desk grading spelling tests that the rest of my classmates had just taken that day. The principal took me on a tour of the district office, and I was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up. I answered, without missing a beat, “Teach.” I loved every minute of that day and set my sights on becoming an educator.
Even as I began graduate school with dreams of landing a physics professorship and a research lab, I don’t think I fully understood what it meant to be an educator or how I could be one outside of academia. I loved the rush I got in the classroom. The challenge of helping my students understand how the universe worked and seeing those light bulb moments light up their faces was everything I thought it would be as a doe-eyed 9 year old.
Despite loving it, my meandering career path ultimately led me away from academia, for the most part anyhow, and to the shores of South Lake Tahoe to build its first coworking space. On the surface, coworking and education seem disparate. Most people that find out my background seemed puzzled by the apparent departure. But if you start to dig deeper, into the spirit of coworking and its part in the future of work, they really aren’t so different.
If I reflect on why on I love being an educator, it comes down to this. I believe in a future that is better than the present, and better for all, not just a few. And while that seems overly optimistic and Utopian, it is a core value that I depend on to guide my day to day decisions and how I determine what is worth my focus.
Education is about constant improvement. It is about gaining more knowledge, more experience, and more perspective, to improve ourselves and our lives. It is a yearning to thrive. In this sense, the spirit of education reaches far beyond classroom walls and institutions. And so did I. I came to realize that what I am truly passionate about is helping others with their educational journeys, and that did not mean I needed to be in a traditional classroom.
One of the most challenging educations I’ve had is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs must learn quickly, they must become masters of often entirely new subject areas, they must themselves grow, and they must be resilient.
In a coworking space, I am surrounded by entrepreneurs. These are lovers of learning,a tribe that has the same yearning for education that I have. And by operating the space, I get to help them thrive. I also get to help bring about a vision for the future of work that gives us all more freedom to work the way we want to live, and to better access a digital market that allows us to do it. Coworking spaces are more than beautiful and convenient places to work.
Through entrepreneurship, I found my classroom. And my coworking space has become my institution.