Back in May, I took you on a quick journey into the mind of a typical American teacher in those closing weeks of the semester. Tomorrow the spring semester will begin at the high school where I teach, and although I’m sure many parents and students are unaware of this, most teachers actually have to report to work prior to the return of the students. Especially in schools like mine, where the semester break brings with it a whole new set of classes, rosters, and responsibilities. Tomorrow is, for all intents and purposes, another First Day of School.
But today, as we took part in workshops about teaching writing and examined a new evaluation system, no doubt many teachers’ minds drifted once or twice. So today, we’re going to journey into the thoughts of a hypothetical teacher to see what he or she may have been thinking the day before the students come on back…
Is this meeting over yet? I’ve got to get in my classroom and finish getting ready… gotta take down the student work from last semester, print out my syllabus…es… syllabuses? Syllabi? Is the plural of syllabus “syllabi?” That sounds right, but I’m just not sure. Um. I shall print out a syllabus per incoming student. Yes. That is what I shall do. I’ll print out these documents, along with the pretest I always give on the first day. If these kids are in English III, they should be able to adequately explain what a plot is by now, right? Especially the ones that I taught already, back when I was still teaching English I. I wonder how many of those I’ll have to teach again. I wonder if they’ll pay attention this time. This is a tougher class, we’re not going to spend weeks picking apart the DiCaprio Romeo and Juliet.
DiCaprio was good in Inception, wasn’t he? I mean, I’m not the guy’s biggest fan, but he held that movie together. Chris Nolan is just a hell of a director, honestly. I wonder if Inception is on Netflix streaming yet. Probably not. Oooh, but I can watch that documentary about backstage at Walt Disney World again. That was cool.
We’ve been going over this writing technique for a long time. I mean a really long time. Is there anybody left in the faculty who doesn’t get it? Sure, I can see taking this long explaining it to the students, but — crap, what did he just say? Everybody else is writing something down. What’s the assignment? Geez, he’s looking over here… okay, just write something. Anything. Doesn’t matter. Shopping list — I need Scotch tape, glue, loose leaf paper, eggs… Hmm. Ms. Edison is reading what she wrote down… Ah. “How I teach writing to my class.” That’s easy enough, I–
Oh man, he’s pointing at me.
Okay, that was easy enough. Sounded like I knew what I was talking about. Whew, I haven’t had to pull something out of my butt like that since I was in college. Heh. Remember that class? Geology. Why on Earth was I taking geology? I remember why I wasn’t paying attention in geology, though. I mean, who was I kidding, I didn’t know a hole in the ground from the hole in my–
What are they passing out? Oh, this is my roster. These are the kids I’m going to have in my room tomorrow. Let’s see… never heard of him, of him, of her, of — aw no, not him again. That little jackass was in my class in ninth grade, isn’t it somebody else’s turn to deal with him? Never heard of her, of him of… what’s this? Thirty-two students? Thirty-two? And that’s the same as I have in my second period, too! I’ve only got thirty desks! And it’s not like I’ve exactly got room to put in more. What, should I get them to sit on each other’s laps? Man, I’m going to have to start going around until I find somebody who has extra desks, which nobody ever does. I feel like a Dickensian waif, knocking on doors asking for desks like that. Maybe I can dress up like that rabbit in the Muppet version and sing on their stoops until they throw desks at me.
This meeting still isn’t over.
Is there any Christmas candy left at home? There’s nothing sadder than when you eat the last of the Christmas candy. Even taking down the decorations. That’s like the final signal that the holidays are over and it’s time to get back to the grind. That and waking up at 5 a.m. so you can make it to work. Human beings should not be awake at that time. What’s up with those people who get up at 4 to jog? Okay, good for them for wanting to stay in shape, but what’s the point of living longer if you’ve got to wake up at 4 a.m. to do it?
Whew — meeting over. Gotta go get this class together before the kids show up tomorrow.
Syllabi. Almost sure of it.