Tuesday, October 19, 2004

passing milestones

Before i begin detailing the milestone i passed yesterday (and passing milestones, while occassionally depressing, is far more pleasant than passing kidney stones), i would like to thank the one person who responded to my desperate plea for feline help: Jeanne, you're a star. The rest of you insensitive, cat-loving nobheads can get bent.

Yesterday, i walked into the classroom and took my place behind the podium for the first time. Oddly, i wasn't nervous or intimidated. I was teaching 8th grade general science while Mrs. Ramker was at a conference. The kids are studying the basics of atomic structure and molecular bonding simultaneously with geology, minerals, and crystal-formation. The end goal is to get them to understand how different-shaped molecules form different crystalline structures, and be able to surmise the molecular structure of a crystal just by looking at it's macroscpic shape. How cool is that? I didn't get to study any of that stuff til i was a junior in high school!

Anyway, the classes were fun, and I didn't have any difficulty maintaing order. There were a few precoscious (sal, don't even bother correcting my spelling) kids and brown-nosers, but no real trouble-makers. One kid asked me a bunch of questions about me (degree, career, etc...) but since they were all relevant to my qualification to teach the class, I answered them. Then he said, "Well, we're awfully glad to have you."

"Thank you, Mr. Matyniak," I replied. "It's always nice to be sucked-up to." The class sniggered and he shut up. Miss Matthews, 1; snotty student, 0!

The highlight of the day was eating lunch in the teachers' lounge. The teachers' lounge is one of those mysterious bits of school. As a student, you never see the inside of it. What goes on in there? What do they talk about? Do they take their masks off? On a conscious level you know perfectly well that it's just a room where teachers eat their sandwiches, drink their diet coke, and complain about their cars breaking down and their mothers-in-law phoning every night, but the unknown has always held sway over the human child's imagination, and a part of you can't help believing that the door to the teachers' loungs is the portal to another dimension.

And in a way, it is. It's the dimension where teachers don't have watch what they say or keep themselves in check. It's the Normal Dimension, where teachers-turned-people eat microwaveable lunches and swap funny stories of things students said in the morning classes. I started an anecdote of a kid who came up to me in the hallway after homeroom, held out his hand to me, and said, "Miss Matthews--I don't believe we've been formally introduced. My name is..."

"Seamus Connelly!" rang in six teachers simultaneously, and everyone chuckeld, because everyone knows that Seamus Connelly is a charmer. The coolest part was that many of these teachers were my teachers, 12 years ago or more. And here I was, enjoying their company, completely accepted as a peer. I hope they call me back to sub again soon, becaue I can still learn a lot from them. Maybe not about the states and capitals or how to solve a two variable equation, but about teaching, managing a large classroom, inspiring cooperation and hard work, and life in general. And since I turned out so brilliantly, i can't imagine a better place to learn than from the people who helped get me where I am today: 25 years old, living with my parents, and working sporadically. God bless Jackson Catholic Middle School.

1 comment:

Sal said...

i would not dare correct a teacher's work :)

i did ask a vet mate of mine what he thought re cat, but he couldn't think of anything. sorry.