What We Talk About When We Talk About Teaching
I remember, as a child, going on family holidays to Florida. Cocoa beach with its big waves; the freeway sprawled before me, windows rolled down, radio tuned to a local radio station playing “Kissed By A Rose” every hour, on the hour. I remember lizards clinging to walls, frozen out of fear; lizards on the road, splayed and flattened. I remember most of what it means to be free.
And now, on the brink a 30th birthday (which doesn’t mean much to me) I’m left wondering how I got where I am and why; whether any decision I made was mine.
Time teaches lessons. People pass through doors. People leave. And yet, we strive. We seek. And for me, I travel and teach.
The traveling part comes natural to me, perhaps bred from family getaways from a young age. The teaching part is still a struggle. The constant talking and instruction giving, anecdotes and clarifying. I’m not a natural speaker. I don’t command much of a presence. And yet, my job demands I talk in front of an audience of eager young ears each day.
Some jobs allow for sleep-walking, cubicle-sitting, and banter; restroom breaks, lunch-breaks, and mind-breaks. My job demands weekends, evenings, and 5 am wake-up calls; schedules, meetings and more meetings. But most of all, my job demands social grace and speaking skills (two traits I continue to struggle with).
I suppose I cope by way of simple tactics: nodding, smiling, and head-shaking, as well as any other form of non-verbal communication that conveys only as much as needs to be said – but still, as little as possible.
There are moments when the turtle peaks from its shell, moments of collateral exchange. Why, just two days ago I spoke with a student about whether or not Batman should indeed be considered a superhero. And a day later, with a different student, I volunteered the information that I been without a TV in my home for the past two years.
Sometimes, there’s just too much chatter. Noise becomes nonsense. Silence seems preferable to something uttered but nothing said. Having said that, teaching demands a voice. In vain, I’m still trying to find mine.
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