I blame Michelle Pfeiffer for my expectations of teaching. In 1995 I saw Dangerous Minds and decided that I too, could change the lives of high school kids.Then Hilary Swank came along with her Freedom Writers BS and here we are. A whole slew of wide-eyed certified English teachers ready to take on the classroom. I sat through four years of college literature classes. The last two years of college were a mix of literature and education classes. In my mind, I was going to walk into a classroom and change the world.
It’s funny to think that my college education prepared me for teaching sixteenth century Victorian literature, the effects of medieval society on the common novel, and classical languages, but virtually nothing on working with living human beings.
With that, I present to you:
Required Courses for Potential Teachers
1. Bodily Fluids 101: At some point in a classroom, a teacher will have to deal with bodily fluids. Vomit, blood, snot, phlegm, pee, sneeze residue, blister juice. After eleven years, I think I may have seen it all. I even had a poor unfortunate girl come to school with a stomach bug one day and she couldn’t make it to the bathroom. She didn’t have the throwing up kind of stomach bug–you can imagine what ended up on the chair. Future teachers, be prepared! You need to know how to handle this with grace, a tough stomach, and the ability to continue teaching.
2. Drug Cartel 101 and 102: Kids talk. You need to be able to interpret conversations and street names for drugs. “I could go for some Strawberry Quick?” No, that child is not thirsty. That child is talking about crystal meth. “I have Molly coming over tonight.” Really? There’s no Molly in the school. Molly is ecstasy. Get your drug faces on, teachers. You’re about to go DEA all over this joint.
3. Adolescent Therapy 415: You will inevitably turn into a therapist. Ladies, you are going to have girls come to class crying. You need to know exactly the right thing to say. You will have kids come to your classroom during your free periods when you are knee-deep in grading papers and tell you horrifying stories that you don’t want to hear. You don’t want to be caught off guard the first time it happens. Gentlemen, some boys don’t have fathers so, tag, you’re it; even if you are newbie fresh out of college and only 22 years old. Congratulations! You’re a dad!
4. Intro to Parenting 101 and Advanced Parenting 200: This will begin with the basics and progress into more advanced stages of parenting. Kids are *for the most part* good-hearted. However, there will be times when you go all out and do something awesome for you class and pay for it out of pocket. The kids will be thrilled…but you won’t get a whole lot of thank yous in return. Don’t fret! Intro to parenting will teach you how to teach the basics of manners and social skills. Advanced parenting will teach you how to teach teenagers how to be parents, because that too, will happen. Advanced Parenting will also teach you how to look excited about the new babies that students bring to school to visit, but not too excited because after all, other teenage girls are watching your reaction. (But oh my…new baby smell. Who can resist?)
5. When Nobody Does Their Homework 342: Yeah. This happens. You will assign homework. You will plan a lesson that corresponds with children completing this homework in order to effectively teach the next lesson. Annddddd then….no one does it. That’s always a good time.
6. Keeping Up With Fashion 256: I’m not saying you need to shop in the juniors section until you are 55, but your life will be a whole lot easier if you don’t bring any undue criticism from teenage girls regarding clothing choice. And believe me, you can be the nicest teacher out there, but teenage girls will absolutely give you a once-over every now and then. Be prepared.
7. Bladder Control 140: Peeing is not always in the schedule. Learn to hold it.
8. Thick Skin 450: Contrary to what you might believe, not everybody is going to fall in love with you. You are NOT everybody’s cup of tea. There will be times when you hear about it. There will be times when you find a note about you. There will be times when you have eyes rolled at you. There will be times when you think you’re doing everything right, but someone else thinks you’re doing it all wrong. Thick skin. You need it.
9. What Do You Mean My Class is Not Your Favorite? 115: You love your subject. You think it’s awesome. You think everything you plan is great and exciting. Yeahhhhh….about that. Let’s learn to deal with that.
10. Bouncing 210: You will be a bouncer. Fights happen. Either get in and help and get out and find help. But don’t EVER get in between a girl fight–those are vicious.
11. Farts and Discipline 300: You will have kids who fart. These farts smell and then the whole class is distracted because of the smell. You might even gag because it smells so bad (see course 1). Farting is normal. However, you will also have kids who fart to be funny. The question is: how to discipline a farter. Hmmmm.
There’s me. With a helmet. Because I’m crazy.
Those are the basic courses. Of course there is always room for the addition of other courses, should the need arise.
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