As part of my grad school experience/quest to become a high school English teacher, I’ve been spending quite a few hours in a New York City public school the last few weeks.
This fall I’m required by Queens College to observe/teach 100 hours in a classroom setting. I was assigned to a fairly new high school (which I won’t name to protect the innocent and the guilty) that’s clean and fresh and all kinds of modern.
And the kids? Well … a few quick thoughts from my first few weeks of watching a pair of 9th grade English classes:
— All I’ve heard in the last 15 years is how much “smarter and more world-savvy” kids today are. Not so much. The kids I’m seeing seem really, really sheltered.
— Felt pretty ancient when a 14-year-old referred to me as “Old Dude” the other day. Laughing, I asked him how old he thought I was. “Ummm, 50?” (I’m 36).
Sigh. I think it’s the hair loss.
— Sitting in on teacher’s meetings and hearing them bitch about their students made me wonder how my teachers used to talk about me.
— I’ve gotten to see some very good teachers up close, who have left me kind of in awe. I’ve got a LONG way to go until I’m good at this.
— The lack of respect kids have for their teachers is one thing I expected. But lack of respect for each other? Kind of sad.
— It’s been three weeks and I haven’t wanted to kill any of the students in my classes yet. That’s a good thing, right?
— Finally, I can’t say enough about how prepared and on point most of the teachers in my school seem to be. This is such a hard profession, and the more I see it up close, the more scared I get.
But then, that’s how I felt at the beginning as a journalist. So maybe it’ll pass.
Or, you know, I’ll go crazy in five years and write a bestselling book called “How I escaped from the classroom before turning into a mass-murderer.”
**Don’t know about you, but a staple of my childhood was the sitcom “Very Special” episode. Not sure how intentionally cheesy these were meant to be, but man, they were horrendous. I particularly remember a “Growing Pains” episode involving Mike Seaver and some cocaine that sparked a drug talk from my mother back in the late 1980s.
Anyway, some brilliant Internet person put together this three-minute compilation of the best of the “special” episodes. It’s fabulous.
** I came across this the other day on Twitter and thought it was fascinating, especially in light of all the Steve Jobs obit worship. Here’s an obituary of Thomas Edison from October 18, 1931, from the New York Times. Truly amazing to think of all that man accomplished.