Tuesday, October 5, 2010

School Daze

Back in Canada, a foreigner no more, and yet still trying to fit in. Blending in with the Chinese was nothing compared to assimilating with the Go-Getter-Teachery Crowd.

For a moment there, I thought maybe I could do it: I was relieved to meet Laura (not her real name, of course, since lying about stuff is all part of this teacher package), who told me that she wasn't really sure if she wanted to be there either. She also said that, like me, she felt awkward that all of the other girls (yes, they are all girls) were yay-dream-come-true teachery people. I thought just maybe I'd have someone to sit in the back of the class with me making snarky remarks.

That was until a few days later, when I caught wind of her talking with some of the other girls about how fulfilled she felt at the end of each day.

Eye roll.

Oh, well. I haven't entirely given up on her - she still comes in to class ten minutes late most of the time, which is encouraging. That warm fuzzy feeling will probably wear off soon, and then I just may have someone who shares my passion for all that is negative/neutral in the world.

On the plus side, I may not have made a friend but I'm pretty sure I've made a nemesis. (And no, I'm not talking about the pair of Scientologists I see every morning doing those stupid arm signals on their bikes even though there's no traffic and I can already tell they're stopping or turning or whatever because, um, they're stopping or turning or whatever. They're really only annoying because it's nauseatingly early in the morning.)

My nemesis is Ellen (again, lying), a classmate that I have sat next to twice now. I'm pretty sure she knows that we are nemesi. She is the Newman to my Jerry.

Spread out on the desk in front of Ellen: a pink highlighter, a blue highlighter, white-out correction tape, a package of eight different colours of felt-tipped pens, a regular pen, about six pages of hand-written colour coded notes on the weekly readings, and of course the note paper for today's class.

Spread out on the desk in front of me? A banana, some kleenex, and a giant cup of coffee.

The first time I sat next to Ellen, we were asked to do some group work with the students at our table. We were supposed to answer a question about a reading, and then present our answer to the class. I was the designated presenter for our group, because Sally's favourite vegetable was squash, or whatever "fun" selection process the prof was using that day.

Anyway. I was presenting. And despite the banana and blue-only pen I actually had read the article, thankyouverymuch. The question was of the straightforward regurgitation variety, no analysis or criticism necessary, so we easily agreed on what I would say. Ellen was scribbling furiously, switching writing utensils at every turn to correlate her notes with the shade of her heart at that very moment, I imagine. In case she thought it was a written assignment, I helpfully pointed out that she might not really need to write down so much - we only had to answer orally, and it was information directly out of the article we each had printed out in front of us. She said she preferred to write it down anyway, just to make sure she knew. Okay. Totally fine. I get that.

But then she says, "And if YOU'RE not writing it down I just want to make sure that YOU know it too because YOU'RE the one presenting for us." 

Oh Yes She Did.

Instant Nemesis.

Of course my answer was articulate and brilliant, SO THERE nemesis, and WE DON'T GET GRADED ON THE QUALITY OF OUR SCHOOL SUPPLIES YOU KNOW. AHRGH!!! I want to scream right now just thinking about it. And also laugh very hard. All at the same time.

So, that's my current level  of adjustment to the student life. It's a good start.

p.s. Does anyone know anyone who can make a mind map with pretty pictures about my vision of teaching and learning and how every child is a special snow flake? I need it for Friday, and I'm willing to pay you five bucks and make you a mojito.


  1. I don't think mine was a mind map, but after multiple glasses of wine I drew a picture of the teaching being the watering can, the water being knowledge and the plants the children in my classroom garden. Or something along those lines. It's a bit blurry. I did, however, use a variety of coloured pens and received full marks for it.

  2. can we be best friends? i was laughing my ass off at ellen and her plethora of ridonkulous school supplies. teachers. psh.

  3. @Gill - thanks for the tip. it inspired the "tree" theme I used for my mind map (i sold my soul and used lots of coloured pens too), which i managed to complete in time to sprint to the prof's office 5 minutes before the deadline as usual... anyway - sending a mental mojito your way!

    @Mindy - oh yes, teachers... i am learning that they are a whole new beast on this side of the globe. appreciate the advantages of teaching at schools run by business people while you still can... And thanks for checking out the blog!

  4. Hello "Anonymous",

    You sort of gave yourself away with that screwdriver comment above. And you know as well as I do that that story is not fiction.

    A mojito is a delicious cocktail made with rum, club soda, a generous twist of lime, a bit of sugar, and a handful of fresh mint leaves. Over ice, with a straw. But you've missed the deadline for that mind map competition.

  5. making mojitos is pretty hard. you need a muddler.