My co-worker put it perfectly yesterday when she described teaching as an “adrenaline rush.”
We were sitting at Chulls after work, this amazing burger place that’s right on a main strip on the walk back from the combi-drop-off, and I was talking about how my first day as lead teacher in her class had gone.
To be perfectly honest, going in I was pretty nervous. It’s essentially an hour of public speaking when you boil it down, which I’ve always been apprehensive about, but at least when it’s people your own age they’re obligated to listen to you. Not so, small children. But when they started streaming into the classroom at 3:40, and some started sitting in their chairs even though I’d asked them to sit in a circle on the floor, and some just stood around while others wrestled (?!), the nerves clicked off and a strange synthesis of big-sister-babysitter-teacher mode turned on.
I separated the wrestlers, locked eyes with the kids refusing to sit on the floor (still unclear why that was such a HUGE request), and, with the help of a volunteer classroom aide, got everyone seated in a semblance of a circle.
“OKAY! SO YESTERDAY–”
(One of the good things about being an adult is your voice can, at least initially, drown out children’s chatter).
“–we learned a new word. Does anyone remember what that word was? Started with “Ga…”
Semi-crickets while they stared back.
“Gaaar–” I tried again.
“Garbetch?” Piped a couple voices.
“Yeah!! Great job, okay, everyone together now. Say ‘garbage.'”
“Good! Okay, so we learned about different types, too, right?”
And so forth.
For the next hour, I wasn’t nervous, because I was too busy explaining that we can reuse garbage, directing an art project, finding the exact right colored pencil, passing out sharpeners, scissors, and glue, pushing chairs precariously balanced on two legs back onto all four, pressing small children back into their seats when they started to wander around the room (“You have half a lion head colored, why are you walking around?!”) and quizzing the kids at random about what they’d chosen to make–what was the English word for it? What color were they using? The hour whirled by, and suddenly it was time to clean up, remind them for the 657th time to write their name somewhere on their project, and the final task was convincing them that displaying their art projects on the window sill was a better idea than just bringing them home. Finally, I had fifteen projects on the windowsill, and fifteen antsy students ready to go to cancha (recess).
First class was a success, I think 🙂