Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kudos to Teachers!

I just taught four classes today. I told the students in the first three classes how to find literary criticism on Oedipus, Hamlet, and Glass Menagerie for papers they are writing for college English Composition II. I talked for about forty minutes in each of the three classes about using the catalog and databases. The fourth class was on using the internet efficiently. You know, the class where I teach students that "Wikipedia is the devil's workshop!" (Just kidding.) I teach classes often but it is pretty rare I have four scheduled in one day. I am exhausted.

How do elementary teachers stay "on" all day long? They never get to relax. I begin to lose my "teacher voice" after class two and my feet hurt in the middle of class three. I would think that every muscle in an elementary teacher's body, including their voice, must be absolutely worn out at the end of each day.

How do jr. high teachers deal with the adolescent eye rolls and apathy? I quickly develop a profound dislike for students who display a, "This is beneath me" attitude. I would imagine that is a specialty of seventh and eighth graders.

How do high school teachers teach the same material six times in a day? Don't they forget what they have said? By my last class I wasn't sure if I was repeating myself to this group or just remembered having said it to the 2:00 class.

How do college teachers remember students' names? I've always been glad my co-workers wear name tags or I'd have to call them all sir and ma'm. There is no way I could remember all the students' names if I taught four sections with fifty students each and only saw them a few hours each week.

Though it doesn't sound like it, I really like the teaching portion of my job. It is a nice combination of performance and scholarship. However, days like today make me very grateful for the days I get to sit at my desk and buy books with tax payers' money. I send a hearty and heart felt THANK YOU to all of you who have dedicated yourselves to teaching all day, every day so I don't have to.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Home Is Where Your Heart Is

I have a nephew who has just left for the Virgin Islands to work for a few months. Another nephew is moving with his wife to Honduras soon to work for an NGO. Yet another nephew is thinking he will probably go to college in Liverpool, England. I have a niece who lives in New York City even though she has no blood related family nearby. One of my good friends has a niece who plans to move her family to Africa in the next few years. Another young couple with whom I am acquainted has already done a tour with the Peace Corps in Africa and has had another job in Costa Rica.

I am perplexed by, yet envious of, these twenty-and-thirty- somethings who are so brave and who are willing to step off into adventures without the security of extended family or childhood friends. For heaven’s sake, I was so homesick and lonely when I went to Abilene to go to college that I came back and finished college in Canyon, where I grew up. And they almost speak the same language in Abilene as in Canyon! Then it took me two years to get over the trauma of moving from Amarillo to Fort Worth and I was thirty and had two kids by the time that happened. As I was growing up I barely knew anyone who had traveled overseas, much less lived there.

Young people have a very different relationship to the world than my generation had. They feel a global responsibility that never occurred to me. They have created circles of friends and surrogate families which provide support and care. They also provide support and care not only to their circle of friends, but to a great many strangers. They feel genuine concern about the citizens of the world. My concerns when I was thirty involved how many square feet could our mortgage provide and where would I find a good hairdresser in the new neighborhood. These young heroes are maintaining power grids, planting trees in deserts, teaching the poor and healing the sick.

Many other young relatives I haven’t mentioned are staying closer to home and family and have chosen careers of community service. They have taken on responsibility for parents, family and community far beyond their years. I am so very proud to know these men and women. I have great hope for our communities, our nation and our world as their generation assumes the seats of power.

God Bless Them All.