Tuesday, June 14, 2005

I loves my job.....

I consider teaching my "real job". Not because the library isn't a real job, just because I love teaching, I look forward to teaching, and I would probably trade a kidney at this point for a full-time position at the junior college where I work, for the summer, two nights a week. I get more fulfillment out of teaching, especially the developmental English and reading classes, because most of these people are turned off. Turned off to reading, turned off to writing, turned off to language. It's challenging and more than a little bit fun to try to turn 'em back on.

I love my job SO MUCH right now because of something that happened yesterday:

A woman in my night class came into the library. My students know I work there and this particular student came in excited.
"Miss M_____! I'm so glad you're here!"
Well, I never hear that at the 'brary, so I turned around so fast my head got a little Exorcist action. She walked up to the desk clutching a copy of The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket, and said, "I finished it already!! I took it to the doctor with me and finished it!" My eyes nearly goggled out of my head.
I gave the reading class an optional project to read The Bad Beginning and do a take-home exam of it. This takes a little pressure off of the two book tests we have, and most importantly, it breaks up the monotony of doing book work in class every night. I was sure they'd all sneer and look at me like a 5-headed sea snake, but to my delight, they ALL accepted the assignment. The student who came into the library told me at the beginning of the course that she'd never done much work in school because she was a bully type who played sports. 'Nuff said. She's really motivated to come back to school and get a medical certificate so she doesn't have to drive as far to work every day, be such a peon to her shitty boss, and make something of herself all around. She doesn't read. She's not comfortable with it--but she's willing to do her best to excel in my class, yadda yadda.
Last week was a rocky week. She struggled a bit with some of the class work, and was a little discouraged overall, but she had her copy of the Snicket with her and she'd already read a few pages. Needless to say I was shocked when she pranced into the library all finished within 4 days. I was even more shocked when she said, "I've never read a book before. I've never read a whole book. I'm keeping this forever."
VICTORY!!!!
Stuff like that elates me. Like I wasn't already elated enough. This has gotta be better than drugs.
I'm going to pick up my own copy of the book before work because I need to quickly re-read it before I start giving out the take-homes next week. I chose the book because it's an easy read (for 9-12 year olds), it's fun, and most importantly Snicket (really Daniel Handler) revels in fun with language.
I think I'm gettin' a little teary.

20 comments:

  1. wow! good story! i feel all teary-eyed for ya myself. :) nothing like a little inspirational pickmeup to get you through the week! you should get her to read a harry potter next....then a chronicle of narnia....then.....a tolkien....ah. high hopes...

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  2. I don't think there's anything that comes close to the satisfaction of seeing a student when they "get" it. It's obvious when a student does well in a physical sense--running a race, scoring 3-pointers, etc. It's totally different when you touch them in a "brainy", subjective way--both intelligently and emotionally.

    I doubt I'll ever teach in a classroom again. Those days are behind me. But there's NOTHING like that feeling!! Sorta makes your day, doesn't it?!?

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  3. Great story, Andi!

    suzz

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  4. Awww... Andi, great story!
    Those (seemingly little) victories are actually huge. It's what makes teaching so worthwhile. :)

    I've had a few of those moments, too, in my classes; nothing beats it!

    Curious - What age are these students? I had a hard time telling since Lemony is more of a kids book, but the student was talking about a job in the medical field. I'm figuring maybe older? Adults? Is it a sort of remedial type class?
    :)

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  5. Great story! There is no better high than sharing your knowledge and watching it impact someone else's life. The girl I tutored this year went from failing math to a B in three months. I cried! No surprise there! The world is in need for more teachs like you that want to get their students excited, instead of just goin thru the motions. Loves

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  6. I know. Man do I know. The frustrating thing about it is that it requires as much work as a "real" job, but pays as though you were manufacturing textiles in a South Asian factory. Which requires a second real job to stave off poverty. And I've found that Sallie Mae never wants to hear my inspirational stories when she comes round lookin to break my kneecaps.

    Keep up the good work professor Hottie Pants.

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  7. You're one of the good ones, kid.

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  8. That is fabtastic. Great to see at least some people getting satisfaction from teaching

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  9. Clack,
    I had to hold myself back so as not to overwhelm her completely with book recommendations. *sigh*

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  10. Mo,
    Can I call ya Mo?

    I teach developmental English and reading at a community college. I have all ages....from fresh out of high school to 60 and returning to school. This particular student is in her 30's or 40's and has never read a book. Hard to believe, but much more common than I ever would've believed. There are three levels of developmental reading and they're placed based on a state exam.

    Welcome to my blog!

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  11. Awww, Val!
    You're so sweet! Congrats on the success with your tutoring student!

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  12. Trick!
    Professor Hottie Pants! Money is definitely an issue...especially as an adjunct. This particular institution where I work is expanding rapidly (satellite campus) and they'll be building a new facility and hiring more instructors full-time. Cross all your parts for me. I think I could handle their full-time pay.

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  13. Thanks Todd and Kikhwa, dahlings! *smooches all around*

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  14. Fence,
    I never would've thought it when I was teaching high school, that's for sure! There was not much satisfaction to be had there! Well, there was in the students, but the administration can still lick my crack.

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  15. Aww Andi that was a fantastic story. The world needs more fantastic teachers like you. You almost make me want to take it up too! :)

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  16. I gotta tell ya ... your post describes a bit about why I think I really want to teach. I can't imagine how great it feels to have someone come up to you years later and say "thank you". That is an amazing story!

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