Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In which I start teaching in six days

Again my internet situation is less than optimal, and I'm tired to boot, so only quick updates--

Our apartment is livable. We have a heater, a stove, blankets, and a number of other things that people have in apartments. As much of a hassle and an expense as it's been to shop for essentials every day--and to realize every day that there are essentials we don't have--it's a rewarding feeling to take such an empty place and slowly turn it into a home. There's nothing like finding and purchasing a cutting board to make you feel like you've achieved a major victory. A number of times since we've moved in, I've gotten that rush you get when you're backpacking and you do something basic like cook a meal or brush your teeth; it's a combination of the visceral contentment of satisfying a fundamental physical need and the satisfaction of imposing your will on the forces of society and the natural world. Once we get paid, we may even buy curtains and rugs. We figure we'll be ready for a housewarming party sometime around the beginning of April, and will be excited for the kinetic energy of living beings to literally warm the place.

As for official business,

We've been meeting for three days as a faculty. Only today, in which we tackled the dubious job of writing school rules and guidelines, felt like a real faculty meeting in the way I was expecting them to feel. I am the head of Dramatics Club, which I anticipated since being hired, but which remains daunting. I doubt it will be hugely popular, as one of the other options is ping-pong. (You are a crafty fox, Mark.) It shouldn't be as anxiety-causing as the task of teaching my ~120 English students, but the fact that it will be such a smaller group, and such a less formal setting, adds a whole different set of expectations. While I have every intention of making a real impact on my students, I'm not harboring any lofty fantasies of changing every kid's life with the self-actualizing power of literature, Dead Poet's Society-style; in Dramatics club, though, I will be teaching only a small group engaged in something they will probably have little to no experience with and in which I am highly knowledgeable. Right now, it feels like anything but opening their minds to the transformative power of unchained self-expression will be a total failure. Which is rough, because that last sentence is ridiculous, and I know it. But that's just how I feel.

Though I'm more confident every day, I'm starting to see how teaching could get brutal on my psyche, even though I consider myself as mentally tough as anyone. I've always gotten by by setting an absurdly high bar for myself and having things turn out OK when I only achieve half the things I thought I should have. I'm realizing that this job takes that power largely out of my hands--that even if I go all Robin Williams-in-New-England on everyone, many of my students will not be inspired, many will not care, and some will fail. That's just how life is. I shouldn't beat myself up over it, but I'm going to. That's just how I am.

Many more interesting things happened recently, but I'm not going to write about them. Here's the best (appropriate) quote from yesterday, from a very fit, health-conscious, athletic, young Bhutanese guy, a guy who told us he broke up with his last girlfriend because she was a smoker:

"No, you should drink this tea. It's very good for your health. There is nothing in it but butter, salt, and water."

And he will live 30 years longer than me. And so it goes.

1 comment:

  1. Six days from this post is now. How was the first day of teaching?