All this happened, more or less...

My name is G and these are the true stories of my adventures.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Daily Grind

Every job has its perks and its quirks. In college, I managed a little coffee bar and had the delightful privilege -- nay, the duty -- of starting my day with a free 20 oz. latte. Every day. This was important because as I sat at the register drinking my cup of joe, I demonstrated to the passing populous that I believed in the quality of our product. It also served as the "test run" to insure that the machine was working properly and that the grind was up to a Goldie Lockean standard of excellence.

On the other hand, my coworkers insisted on watching Dawson's Creek from 10 to 12 every morning. The only thing about that show that I ever enjoyed was the time that Jen's dying wish was for Joey to make up her frickin' mind!!!


You don't often see those moments of raw honesty in teen dramas.

Speaking of teen drama...

(Wasn't that a good segue? I knew you'd like it.)


Teaching high school is a bit like being in a very bad spin-off series of Dawson, but with fewer moments of inane personal reflection and more hip-hop. Regardless of the official curriculum, every group of students is an entirely fresh experience, so while I should have only two preps (that's teacher talk for two different courses), I actually have four. This year, I am inadvertently teaching the following courses:

Writing in the Hood -- In Writing in the Hood, we explore what it means to string two or more sentences together coherently in an attempt to convince the tax-payers that American public education is not an utter charade. Please do not be offended when I tell you that "You be trippin'" is not grammatically correct. I do respect your culture; it's just that you're about to graduate, and I want you to be able to get a job that doesn't involve a funny little hat.

Just Trying to Make it to May -- The students in the Just Trying to Make it to May course skim dutifully over the surface of many interesting pieces of literature. We can't be expected to remember to do work outside of class, but in class we will not protest to doing copious amounts of reading and grammar exercises. Occasionally a fiery discussion of some kind will spring up, reassuring the instructor that all pulses are still pumping. We're not really here to learn, but we don't mind if it happens accidentally.

Modern Women for a Matriarchal Utopia -- Extra credit assignments in this course consist of such lofty aspirations as "Create World Peace in Seven Steps or Fewer" and "Become the Supreme Ruler of the Earth Using only the Internet and Four AA Batteries". The name is not deceiving -- this group of students is, by some fluke of scheduling, 100% female. I estimate that the probability of one of these young women actually becoming a world leader is about 7:1 for. Not only does this course cover the required federal, state, and College Board material for both eleventh grade English and AP Language & Comp, but discussions very often branch into the realms of philosophy, international politics, religion, and art, as well as the finer points of linguistics. For example, the other day a student quite astutely observed that the word "of" sounds like "uv". I responded with a somewhat brief explanation of the concept of voiced and unvoiced sounds (in this case, fricatives). This blossomed resplendently into an intricate exploration of the evolution of language in general and English in specific, including -- but by no means limited to -- Indo-European roots, the Battle of Hastings, and why we shouldn't be so quick to judge those who say "aks" instead of "ask". In a normal classroom of 16/17 year olds, I'd have lost them at "fricative" (Hu hu! She said "frick!"), but my Modern Women were on the edges of their seats, all attention riveted on the discussion, every voice chiming in to confirm that they really did a) understand and b) care.


I Think I'm Smart & My Mom Says I'm Special -- The title of this fourth and final course really says it all. This course was originally supposed to have the same material as the Modern Women course, but as I said, no two groups of students are the same. The major flaw in the I Think I'm Smart & My Mom Says I'm Special class is that sometimes there just isn't enough Smart and Special to go around. When Student X receives some Smart in the form of the instructor saying "Yes, X, that's correct," Students A-W universally resent Student X, feel it necessary to defame and slander Student X behind his/her back, and may eventually make Student X feel so uncomfortable that he/she refuses to speak up in class again. It's important to note that Student X is not one particular student -- simply whichever student has answered the question correctly. The equal distribution of Special is also cause for malice and unrest, but this is aimed particularly at students who have long-standing relationships with me, the instructor and Highly-Qualified Distributor of Smart and Special. These unwitting victims include students who had me last year, students who participate in a club that I advise, students whose brothers or sisters are friends of mine, and my second-cousin-once-removed who simply can't help coming from a long line of literary geniuses.

With a day as colorful as this, who would want any other job?


Okay, I do kind of miss the free coffee...

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