Today was, all-in, a lowlight as far as teaching is concerned.
Class 1: No regular teacher. Signora Marguerita Ricerca was going to bring in Cat Stevens “Father and Son,” I had the words printed out we would follow along and have a limited conversation about parenting, letting go, growing up yadda yadda. No teacher. Ryan’s 8am brain paralyzed with slow confusion. I hand out the papers, and read the words aloud anyway. Tonelessly, joylessly, with little explanation. Not much is going on, entertainment or educationwise, so I switch up tactics: I unhelpfully draw two stick figures on the chalkboard and label them “Father” and “Son.” The son is shorter and dad has male-pattern baldness, like my own dad. But of course the best way to tell them apart is the labels. In English. There it is! Education! Well, no, not really. So then I try to talk about Cat Stevens conversion to Islam and his well publicized run in with airport authorities. “Do you think the man who wrote ‘Father and Son’ could be a terrorist?” I ask. No response. You could hear the energy leak out of the class like it was a bike tire.
I also draw a picture of a stickgirl with bone straight hair labelled “daughter,” and a curly haired triangle dress wearing mother. Class still leaking. Gender equality and diversity dealt another blow. Conservative family values given a crude stick-figure vote of support.
Class. Failing. Badly.
So, I sat down and did nothing.
What was to be done in that situation? Not so much a rhetorical question as a very pressing one for which I had no answer.
So I continued to do nothing. For a few more minutes. Then, mercy of mercies, somebody asked me about Thanksgiving. So I explained it as best I could. A harvest festival dinner we eat with Indians, I said. Also now teaching revisionist history. I also drew a turkey. What can I say? I was on a roll.
Class 2: Again, no teacher. I handed out a gruelling 100 word assignment on Canada and threw chalk at a child. Not hard, but also not necessary.
Class 3: Yet again, no teacher. The worst. I left before the bell because the kids were so uncontrollable. I sulked out of the room. Earlier on I had told them: “I know this stuff you guys,” in my best ingratiating, buddy-buddy, substitute teacher voice, “I’m not doing this for me.”
A new low.
Class 4: With teacher. Alright. The kids moderately well behaved with a stronger grasp of English. But they always are better behaved and more engaged. At any rate 1 out of 4 is actually not a very good ratio. Next week I’ll fight any kid who talks out of turn and not do any more worse-than-useless narrow-minded chalk drawings.