I have an immense respect for people who have decided to make a career out of teaching.
I once was bold enough to jump through the Fiery Hoops of Bureaucracy to try to join their ranks. However, right after smoothly swinging my way across the Alligator Swamp Of Student Teaching (thanks to the help of some fantastic mentor teachers), I dove into the Shark Tank of Brand-New-Mid-Year-Replacement-Travelling-Teacherdom.
Many of the students were voracious, but not for knowledge.
Even with some great mentor teachers, and some great students, I arrived on the Barren Shores of Finding A Job riddled with bruises and bite marks. As I went to find a boat to the next obstacle course, I found all the boats were full, or had been closed due to budget cuts and the Recession.
I returned to the Jungle of Substitute Teacherdom, a jungle I had skirted on and off during my student teaching. I knew my way around the beasts lurking in the dark, and when to enjoy the broad vistas of a well run classroom. Limping along, I arrived at the Haven Of Long Term Substitute Teacherdom, and rested with a group of fine students. Not all were perfect, but I was reminded why I had begun the journey in the first place. My health was restored, and I was able to rest a moment.
However, at the end of the season, I once more stood on the Barren Shores of Finding A Job. Once more, all of the boats were full. Standing by some, I looked across the water and saw I might have to swim through another shark tank or two.
Exhausted and defeated, I crossed to the Harbor Of Other Careers and jumped onto the first boat that could carry me to the Island Of Self-Sufficiency. (Actually, I got there, and then had to swim back to The Island Of Mom And Dad’s Couch for a bit, and am now preparing to board the Gauntlet of Grad School, but that’s another story).
Some students are fantastic. Some days some students are fantastic, other days… no. Some students need more love than others, and other students give so much love you don’t know what to do with it. All of them take a great teacher to help them as they develop into those strange beings known as ‘adults’, and I congratulate everyone who has the courage to give so much of themselves and their time to the work of building the next generation.
It has now been over four years since I last taught high school English, yet here are five relics I keep from that epic journey:
1. Thinking of Lesson Plans While Watching Or Reading
One of my lesson plans while teaching a Senior English class used “Almost Got ‘im From” Batman : The Animated Series to teach about the Canterbury Tales. In both, the characters sit around and tell stories which illustrate their personality and perspective. It was completely relevant…
2. Literary Memorabilia
What is a good English Teacher’s desk without something literary and ridiculous? Over the time of my student teaching and teaching, I received all of the following, except Miss Austen (I’ll have to correct that someday):
And though I am no longer teaching English, I know I would also make sure these were in my classroom as well:
Which, having read these out loud as a group at Nerd Night, might be part of a great Friday before a holiday lesson plan. (Have you ever seen students right before Halloween or Spring Break or Winter Break? It is a whole epic by itself.)
3. The Teacher Glare
This may not be the best thing to bring into other situations, but it can be useful. For example, when I’ve been teaching at church and there are side conversations – sometimes by good friends of mine – I’ll use a soft teacher glare. I also find myself using it on younger siblings without thinking… So, I apologize to my younger siblings who may not have deserved it.
I also use it on the dogs. This is often effective.
4. Graphic Organizers And Outlines
Graphic organizers are really just a fancy way of saying “Make a pro-con list”, “A t-chart”, “a brainstorm cloud,” and on and on. When I need to organize things for my writing, my default is to create some form of a worksheet or graphic organizer for myself. Sometimes this is handy. Sometimes this might be a little overzealous.
This is also why so many of these posts are numbered and organized with sub-headings – to make the information more easily discernible.
I suppose if I went back into teaching in the next few years, graphic organizers might be passe and be replaced by Visual Arrangers. (It allows you to arrange your thoughts visually!)
5. Writing sonnets at random times
Though I’ve not taught English for many years,
And memories do mix and lessons fade,
At times, poorly used words burn at my ears,
Sending rhyme and meter and form unbade.
An iambic meter beats in my mind,
The rhyme cries in first, second, first, second,
And so I write so silence I can find,
For who can but resist when so beckoned?
I’ve taught of proposals meant modestly,
Of Keats, Browning, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Donne.
Great structure and form lies in their poetry,
But, in my mind one form always does run.
So, when I put on my thinking bonnet,
My mind ever turns to Shakespeare’s Sonnet.
(Oh, and I know Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal is prose, not poetry. I just liked how “modestly” was a nice near-rhyme to “poetry”.)
- How about you? Do you have threads of relics from previous careers and employment?
- If you were to choose your favorite poem form to express yourself, what would it be?
- Have you ventured into the wild world of teaching? Once again, I salute you have stayed longer.
- Would you be more cooperative if Peter Capaldi as the Doctor showed up as your English teacher and gave you his angry eyes (see picture under #3)?
Side Note 1: Speaking of the Doctor as a teacher… this is a few years old now, but still entertaining:
Side Note 2: And while we’re still hanging out in Britain, this French and Saunder’s skit may be a parallel universe to some days in my classroom.
Side Note 3: For more literary fun, check out Thug Notes – accurate literary analysis by a cool thug. (The earlier ones may be more PG-13 than the later ones)
Side Note 4 – A Bit Of A Disclaimer: I am experimenting with the Amazon Affiliates program to see if I can get this blog to be self-sufficient monetarily. This will help as I venture off to Grad School in a little less than a month, and will be living on savings and student loans. So, any products mentioned in this and future posts will be linked to the Amazon page. If someone buys it, I get a few pennies. Hopefully, those pennies will add up to enough dollars to cover my domain cost.
In other words, if you always wanted an Oscar Wilde action figure, click on the picture and it will take you to Amazon. If you buy it through the link, I get about 3 cents, which is much higher than 0 cents. If you don’t want to buy anything, that’s okay too.