Friday, October 29, 2010

Student Teaching

When I was in college I was so paranoid about getting anything less than an A that I would study obsessively to the point where I would often know the material better than even my professors. There were two downsides to this, the first was burning out on the material and bombing tests (and by bombing, I mean C's because I have a Hermione Granger Complex). The second of which was the degeneration of my people skills due to lack of human interaction. I mean literally no human contact outside of the classroom and the grocery store.
After years of studying, my English BA was done and the full year of teacher-training classes too. Of course, my Hermione Granger Complex kicked in and I decided I needed to be THE BEST STUDENT TEACHER EVER. I quit my summer job half way through summer break and spent every waking moment preparing to begin the semester. I was so prepared for Student Teaching that is was ridiculous. But in my cloud of confidence I didn't realize my years of library-hermit living and long-distance running had some ramifications...namely, I was a soft spoken wimp.

At this point I should mention that I had lead a sheltered life when I was in high school. I was in all advanced courses, so I was rarely around anyone other than kids just as nerdy as myself. ...and even then I ignored all of them and played gameboy/DS (depending on the year) and listened to old school Green Day because I WAS THAT PUNK ROCK. Hoo-yeah, you know AP classes are where all the punks are kickin' it!

Anyway, I had no idea what typical high school students were like because I wasn't really all that exposed to them...and when I was it was with the help of my classmates as human shields from the scarier ones. (Like I said, I am a fearless thug-gangsta educator with a no-nonsense attitude that makes teens blood run cold! ROAR!)

Now I am not saying these kids were scary by any means...I was just severely lacking the experiences necessary to know how to help them and get them excited about learning. Because this forced me to face my greatest fear, potential failure, it seemed a little more like this...

So what does one with a severe Hermione Granger Complex do when placed in this type of situation? I LIED TO MYSELF LIKE A MOTHER F*CKING CHAMP! I worked 24/7 on preparing, grading and trying to be the best student teacher I could be so that when in the classroom I could focus on overcoming my weak points...people skills. Within weeks I was left a driveling puddle of goo with pathetically low self-confidence. Being walked all over by kids has that effect on you over time...and it didn't help that some of my students looked older than me either. Effin' genetics man! They SUCK! I would have done just about anything to look age appropriate for my new career.
At this point I was desperate for a solution, so I figured I would play the cards I was dealt. If I was being mistaken for one of my freshmen students, then I would play the youth deck like nobody had ever seen before. I quoted Little Wayne, busted out Flava-Flav impersonations and mocked Justin Beiber between classes. I figured if I could make the class material seem relevant to pop culture the kids would actually want to do the work...then it wouldn't matter that I couldn't keep them on task and under control.

But the kids would have none of it! And who could blame them? They knew they could get away with anything in my classroom, so why stop now? I suspect this was karma biting me in the ass for all the years of playing video games and listening to music during class when I was a teenager. FANTASTIC SUPER HAPPY FUN TIMES.I knew it was bad practice to yell over the students. I knew it was bad to lose your cool in front of them. How could I just let all those years of studying to get a sweet GPA get thrown out the window because a bunch of kids didn't want to do their work? My grade counted on their willingness to cooperate, so I freaked out! I would talk over them because I was panicked. I would yell. I would dock grades. Kids were failing all over the crazy place. This was horrible! I was constantly angry and quickly losing my drive.

But would I give up? Would I admit defeat? Heck no! I was too stubborn to let anything "defeat me."
What had several weeks of walking all over Mr. Naber taught the kids? That they could do whatever they wanted of course! They didn't care about their grades, it was more important that they had the coolest pair of Osiris shoes or that nobody was talking crap about them (aaw, isn't it precious?). Nobody would bring their books, and when they did it was a battle and a half just to get the students to open them and actually read.

Maybe there was a spike in paper allergies for everyone born after 1993?

I was pissed! Hooooo just look at that icy stare! This look could freeze lava! This look could freeze Hot Pockets! Medusa ain't got shizz on me and my icy stare.

Ooh snap, it's working! Can't lose them now!

Let's time this! We have 90 minute long class periods....Maybe this time it will work and last the whole period too! Hold it together, man! Show them you mean business!

It's time to face my demons! Stare those kids down until they do what they are supposed to do! My life felt as if it was on the line. College was expensive and I wasn't going to have it all be for nothing! ROOOOAAAAR!!! Feel the fury of my angry stare!!!
This is important! You will learn it! AND LIKE IT!!!

This will only take a few minutes out of the class...

Repeated this process every 15 minutes for half a semester.

Ran a marathon, drank some scotch.

Then quit.


An Ismanto said...

nice pictures, kamerad. i browse blogger for lovers of for whom the bell tolls and found you. i read the book once only. i hope we can be friend.

About Me

My Photo
I got my English degree and mountain of student loan debt from the University of Iowa. I like boo berry cereal, martial arts, running and cats.
View my complete profile
Matt Naber wrote these words and made these drawings. Powered by Blogger.