28 May 2009

The end of the semester...or...why students have "got it twisted"

I woke up this morning and saw it. i saw the light. most of you all don't get to see the light, as you have real jobs (or some of you all are living an Alaska, Aurora Borealis type experience, 24 hours of light, you unemployed fuckers). The light is what gets me through those rough November lectures on Shakespeare, knowing my freshman are wishing death for themselves or some sort of voodoo type curse on me that left me unable to speak. The light is what allows me to get through the months of February and March, when the convergence of school, testing, grading periods ending, and the mass of insanity that is debate in this block (Stanford, Berkeley, 3 State Quals and 2 NFL national qualifiers), when I spend about two weeks of the semester deathly ill, but unable to call in sick, because i can't afford to miss any more class, not because the administration won't allow me to be out, but because I can't afford to be gone that long, not if i expect the students to gain and retain the information I'm trying to teach them. The light is what makes the last few weeks of class, where people don't want to be there in the same way I can imagine that people are not looking forward to your first trip to the proctologist (and let me tell you, if you haven't been, it's gonna suck- this won't hurt a bit, well that's just not true). The light is the end of the school year, that thing we looked forward to more than anyone could imagine when you were six or nine or thirteen, and we imagined that there was nobody, no person in the world, could want the year to end more than i could have when i was a student in school.

Wrong. Your teachers wanted the year to end more than you ever did. I know it's hard to believe, but there were people that wanted summer more than you did...there are a couple of reasons why this is true...first of all, when students don't want to be there, a good teacher will do what is within their power to peak their interest and keep the educational train on schedule. when that doesn't work, they just want the students to be finished, and not in their classes any more. I know this applies to me. I was teaching a speech class a couple of days ago, when i started asking question of material i knew they were responsible for, it became apparent the students had not done the requisite preparation, which meant that some students that had done their due dilligence and were not able to fully enjoy the experience. when this happened, the clock for the end of the class couldn't have moved fast enough. Being a teacher is not like being a brain surgeon, but it is hard work, and it's even harder if the audience is not interested. when they don't care, it's really hard for me to care, so i just end up in a situation where i wish i had just dialed it in, as opposed to making sure i am prepared as much as i can be....

...the second reason i look forward to the summer is pretty simple, i get paid straight cash during the vacation. I get the same amount for not working in June and July as I do for working in November and March. It means i am allowed to have a vacation (although as i will explain in another post for another day), to attempt to recharge the battery of the American Nigga. But seriously, there are very few things better in life than

I remember sitting in a bar once (yeah, that's a more common theme than i thought it would be, but i digress) and a guy that had just been dumped by his teacher girlfriend (ironically, for not being open enough, and the reason I know this happens to be because he told me everything about his life, in what i could only see as the pinnacle of irony) tells me "The reason teachers get the vacation goes back to when kids took off the summer to help out on the farm, and since we've moved away from an agricultural community to the tech based society, we should have kids go to school for 12 months." I tried my best to stay calm, and i told him, in as nice a way as i could, that "The reason teachers get the summer off is because nobody would do the job if they didn't." But actually, i think it's probably more than that, as I know if i didn't get the summers off, I'd probably have to shoot up a grocery store. Most jobs are just a function of accomplishing similar tasks in repetition, so going to work and dialing it in is relatively easy- if you work at the Gap and you just want to dial it in, just stand in the back and refold pants (a job i've done). Teaching means you always have to be "on" and always have your "A" game. Well, that's not true, teachers dial that shit in all the time, and that's why so many of you have had bad teachers, and most of you hated those teachers. Fortunately, this is something i haven't (yet, knock on wood) had to deal with, as, for some strange reason, students tend to like me (it's probably the tons of self-deprication sprinkled over metric tons of insults to all students, bad and good alike, or it's the open candy bribes before evaluation days, but, once again, i digress). I love my job about 85% of the time, and the other 15% i fight through it, with a smile on my face (not really) and do my best Kool Moe D impression- I get the job done.

With all this free time, i need to figure out what i'm going to do with it all...i imagine the game of poker is involved. i think i'm going to try to play my way into the World Series of Poker Main Event, which is an admittedly lofty goal, but that's the point. If i meet that goal, then it will be an awesome summer, and if not, i'll play a bunch of poker, which isn't a bad alternative.

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