After a few years of teaching from home for a wonderful virtual school, I decided to go back to a traditional, bricks and mortar high school this year, in the district where my kids attend school. It was a dreadfully difficult decision, because I worked with some spectacular people, but I had gained 20 pounds sitting behind and desk and spent a lot of time talking to my cat. I missed the daily interaction with people, the movement around a building, and the energy of students in front of me. I guess that makes me an extrovert, though I never really thought of myself that way.
Some things I have observed in my first two days back:
Eleventh graders are REALLY BIG. Some of them look 25 years old. My memories of 11th grade include gawky, pimply kids with braces. These kids are toned, healthy, and have shiny hair and straight teeth. My neck is sore from looking up at them to carry on conversations. The upside of this is that I feel sort of dainty, which is nice.
One kid told me I was pretty funny (which, let's face it, I am). He then pointed out that he has a concussion. He's my new favorite student.
American Literature is AWESOME. I am privileged to get to teach it.
Every teacher is different. Every teacher is effective. Every teacher loves his or her students.
Being in the same school as my daughter gives me great power. Bwahahaha.
If you tell the kids they have to give you a standing ovation when you enter the room, they will comply. In fact, they will do pretty much anything you want if they think it will help their grade, or if they think you know their mother.
Most high school boys in Indiana, especially the football players, have an unhealthy hatred for Tom Brady.
Most of the girls do not care about Tom Brady.
Picture day is still as horrifying as it was back in the 80s. You still have to tilt your head slightly and sit up straight. They do not, however, give you a flimsy comb any more. The girls come to school dressed to the nines; the boys look like they do every other day of the school year (except for the theatrical types).
Getting out of bed, dressed, and ready to leave home by 7:15 is hard.
No matter what the public perception of teachers is, I remain convinced they are the best people on the planet. One teacher stands outside her door as students enter, shaking each hand and greeting each student by name - all 120 of them - on DAY 2 OF SCHOOL. Another created a whole program for at-risk kids in his spare time so no one falls through the cracks. These stories are repeated ad infinitum across the country. I am proud and humbled to be part of education.
So while there are things I miss about teaching from my cozy little home classroom with my cat at my side, being part of a live school culture (wow, that sounds like something that lives in a petri dish and will soon be part of yogurt or kefir) is also rewarding and constantly entertaining. I only hope that the cat will forgive me.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.