Friday, March 15, 2013

My Calling

I have found my calling.

All my life I wasn't entirely sure what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My mother told me to go to college and take a lot of classes and the mists of confusion would dissipate and I would one day know what sort of job I was meant to have.

I went to college for something like 20 years, off and on. I majored in all sorts of things. The mist never lifted. Until today.  Today I finally felt with absolute down to my bones certainty what I am supposed to do with my professional life. 

Here's how it happened.  My big kid goes to a charter school, and parents have to volunteer a certain number of hours a week.  I hesitantly offered to teach an elective to the older kids in Creative Writing, if anyone could possibly be interested in such a thing, which I doubted.

Here's a secret:  Although I totally adore my kids and their friends, in general I am not down with OPC: Other People's Children.  I am not a kid person, really.  I look at elementary school teachers like they are a completely different species, because that's my definition of fresh hell.

The nice volunteer coordinator assured me that kids at the 5th- 8th grade level would be interested (yeah, right) and that because the only kids in my class were kids who actually wanted to be there, it wouldn't be that bad.  I took a deep breath and agreed, hoping for five students.  I got thirteen.

Thirteen smart, nice, loud, enthusiastic, academically gifted children actually wanted to work on their writing and wanted me to teach them.  I made up some lesson plans based on workshops and college classes I had taken and entered the building.

The first thing I noticed was that none of the lockers had locks on them.  Two hundred students, and not one lock. Wow, talk about trust.  I was impressed; obviously, the school is doing something right.  the second thing I noticed was that the children actually did want to be there, and although they were loud, they were really excited about writing.  That first class filled me with the same anxiety/adrenaline rush as  singing karaoke.  It went better and louder than expected, and I revised my lesson plan for the following week to reflect their skill levels.

Driving to my second class, I became concerned that maybe my class was on Thursdays, not Fridays, and I had done something unforgivably bone-headed, but after checking my phone calendar twice, I reassured myself that today was the day. 

The kids were loud and funny. They were cooperative.  They ran the smart board for me, because even after my 2 minute tutorial I still couldn't write legibly on the dratted thing.  They raised their hands in spite of being told to yell out answers. They wrote quietly when they were told to, and asked for extra time.  They fought over reading their work to the class.  They were excited and happy and….(drum roll, please) ...really fucking good writers.

I don't mean good for a ten year old.  I mean better than 90% of the college kids I took a writing class with at a medium-name university. Not all of them were on that level, obviously, but most of them.  The ones who weren't certainly wrote as well as many young adults I know.

At the end of class, one of the girls came up to me to say that she loved my class and looked forward to it all week.  The heavens opened. There were birds singing and happy little chipmunks dancing, just like my mother said they would.

here is why it is the perfect career path for me:

1. Only teaching smart, nice kids that want to be in my class is way easier than teaching sullen children forced to attend a stupid class they hate.

2. Only teaching one class for 45 minutes a week allows me to to continue to devote time to my other passions, like napping.

3. Because it is an unpaid position, I can practically guarantee there will be little competition to teach!  I won't have to fight with 100's of more qualified applicants!

I can't tell you how good it feels to have finally found my niche in the professional world!  My mother will be so proud!

(My son has actually done this at his school, I kid you not.)

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