Love education? Adore children? Want to make a difference in the world? Then teaching is the profession for you! It’s a noble way to earn a living! A chance to change the world! By teaching one leaves one’s mark on the world, passes on dreams to the future leaders of America!
If it doesn’t kill you in the process.
Because noble and majestic as the teaching profession may be, it is also difficult.
So for those caring souls out there considering a profession in pedagogy, I offer you…
A Taste of What A Day In the Life Of People Who Change The World is Really Like
Set your alarm, my friends, because teaching is not for night owls. Depending on where you choose to work, your start time could be anywhere from 7 – 9, so we’ll just split the difference and pretend you’ve got to be there by 8. But you’ll need to be up much earlier than that. Teaching requires a fair amount of prep work and, to make sure you have the most authentic experience possible, you’re going to need to set a few things up, the first of which, naturally, is going to be your classroom.
Now, assuming that you don’t have access to an actual school in which to perfect your teaching prowess, we need to find the best reproduction of an actual classroom. It’s got to be a large room, preferably with cement floors and/or cinderblock walls. You should absolutely not have windows on more than one wall, and questionable ceiling tiles are a definite perk. You know what? Let’s just use your garage. That ought to work perfectly. I’m well aware that we’re in the dead of winter and most of your garages probably aren’t heated, but that’s ok because your classroom won’t be either, even though your facilities director will assure you that central heating does, indeed, exist somewhere on the premises.
Clear out your cars to make a little room, but don’t worry about the rest of the stuff. That will just approximate the stacks of papers, filing cabinets and “departmental supplies” that somehow ended up crammed into your teaching space. Actually…you know what? Let’s just use all those coolers, camping supplies and sports gear to make your pretend little desks. Divide up all your garage goodies into thirty little piles – one for each desk. All the little piles must have enough space to walk between (so you can manage your future classroom) yet must be close enough for your students to work together while simultaneously having a view of you, no matter where you, or they, are in the room. Once you’ve mastered that task, 1) Call me, because I haven’t yet figured out a formation that doesn’t require breaking the laws of physics then 2) begin recruiting your new students.
Hopefully, you have access to thirty eager adolescents (or pre-adolescents, or small children…your choice) ready and willing to spend a day in your garage learning all the wonderful things you have to teach them. If you do, grab those children and hold on tightly. Like crazy tightly. Like oh-my-god-why-is-this-creepy-dude/chick-clinging-on-to-me-for-dear-life tightly. Thirty willing learners in one small space is a rare gift from the teaching gods. Most of you, however, are probably going to have to rely on less-than-willing, sometimes-sullen or there-completely-against-their-will “volunteers.” No worries. That’ll just teach you classroom management. For those of you without easy access to a brood of thirty children, no worries! Just round up the same number of your neighbors’ pets. If you want the easier experience, just go for the dogs. At least that way you’ve got all of the same animal. For those of you seeking true teaching immersion, get a good mix. Cats, dogs, rodents…doesn’t matter. They’re not all going to get along, and that’s the whole point. Assign each animal a pile of garage goodies (their desk) and you’re almost ready to begin your day.
What? Feeling exhausted already? Indeed. The prep work is brutal, but you’re not done yet. You’re 10 minutes from the first bell and you still need to accomplish a couple more tasks. So quickly…!
- Get on your email, and change your settings to completely remove all automatic spam filters.
- Grab your computer, fill up your bathtub with water and drop the computer into bathtub. Leave indefinitely.
- Go pee. It’s the last chance you’ll have to do this for about the next seven hours.
Ready? Great! You’re day is about to begin! Understand this: you’re the expert in the room. If you weren’t we would never have hired you (or given you this chance to play pretend with us.) Therefore, we’re not going to micro-manage you – we’re simply going to let you do what you do best which, obviously, is teach. You must only follow a few ground rules:
- Your students must be able to prove they have learned something by the end of the day. Yes, everyone. Even that pet goldfish you borrowed.
- You must know where all your students (er…”students”) are at all times. I don’t care how hyperactive the little Chihuahua is. If he chews up somebody’s shoe on your watch, it’s your fault. Sorry, dear, that’s just how this game is played.
- Students must be on task at all times. All students. All times. The German Shepherd humping the Poodle? You lose. But you’re getting a good dose of what springtime in High School Land will be like.
- We’re gonna need you to use technology in your lesson. In this new world of globalization and inter-connectedness, students need to have cutting-edge skills in order to compete.
Ta-ta! We’ll be back to check in seven hours…oh…the computer in the bathtub, you ask? That’s your technology for the day. Sorry. Forgot to mention that. Fish it out and use it in your lesson. We are a 21st century school after all.
What? It doesn’t work?
Oh well. Shit happens. You still need to teach. And use technology.
How’d it go? A bit rough, by the looks of things. I see at least three piles of doggy poo in the corners and it looks like one of the cats ate your goldfish. You’re going to have to deal with that over the course of about eight-hundred administrator/parent meetings. But no time to stress about that now. Your day still isn’t over.
Once you’ve cleaned up your classroom, picked up the doggie poo and reported the fish death to your higher-ups, you still need to do the paperwork for the day and first and foremost is answering email. So, once you get on that waterlogged computer of yours, kindly respond personally to each and every email you find in your inbox. Thanks to the spam filter removal, this should be approximately 3,286 emails all of which need to be answered tonight. Technically, you have 48 hours in which to respond, but should you choose to procrastinate that only means that you’ll have 6,572 emails tomorrow, so I recommend you get it done, even if it means being up until midnight. And remember, you’re a professional, so be polite. I don’t care how pointless, ridiculous, or flat-out rude the emails are, you still need to answer each one in an attentive, kind and personal manner. Yes – even the one offering to enlarge your man parts.
After that, you may take care of your personal needs. I imagine you have only had time to cram a few bites of lunch in your mouth between corralling students, breaking up spats, and trying to teach the dogs to meow. I know it’s already after dark and you’ve been up since dawn, but please, take the last few minutes of your day to kick back, relax…and plan your lesson for tomorrow. Because this was only day one of five this week, Buster.
Oh, right…and you can pee now.
Welcome to teaching.