Wednesday, October 8, 2008

If You've Got 'Em...

When I was studying at Pepperdine for my teaching credential, I had the joy of student teaching at a local high school. This involved me taking over a classroom of students, most of whom looked about my age, and executing a fun, informative lesson plan under the eagle eye of my lead teacher and often the intense scrutiny of my credentialing advisor as well.

Since I planned my lessons well and am an interesting teacher (gestures, sense of humor, an effort made to entertain while I teach), these observed teaching periods didn't phase me.

Until the day the one contingency I never thought to plan for happened.

I was teaching a unit on Antigone. I'd divided the class into teams, one for each main character, and given them the responsibility to list and defend their character's actions while simultaneously giving a logical reason (based on the text) for blaming the outcome of the play on one of the other characters (they got to choose their scapegoat). My kids were excited about the assignment, I'd prepared well, and my lead teacher was complimentary of every lesson I'd planned that week.

What could go wrong?

I woke up that morning and dressed in a new outfit (my credentialing advisor noted not only lesson planning and execution, but professional appearance as well). By new outfit, I mean I'd purchased it a day before and this would be its debut.

It was a simple outfit. Navy pants. Button-down, short-sleeve white shirt. Professional yet approachable. Plus, wearing tailored clothing helped me look more like a college graduate and less like a high school junior.

The bell rang. I grabbed the kids' attention, divided them quickly, and began wandering the room, giving praise and prompting deeper thinking when needed. Keeping a firm eye on the time, I called them to attention with fifteen minutes left in the period. Time to list their arguments on the board and assign the homework of writing a rebuttal to any group who'd given the blame to their character.

My lead teacher was beaming. Her class was engaged, excited, and thinking. My credentialing advisor was beaming. Her student was handling a rowdy class of thirty juniors with ease.

I turned to the whiteboard and began listing each group's arguments. As I solicited their opinions, I added my own, gesturing as I talked my way through their ideas. At one point, I flung my arms out to encompass the class and saw everyone's eyes go wide.

I hammered my point home, seeing students sit up straighter, stop their fidgeting, and zero in on me with gratifying focus.

Impassioned by the lively discussion, encouraged by their rapt attention, it took a minute for me to realize that the previously stuffy room had become a bit breezy. It took another moment for me to register that I was experiencing the breeze where the breeze was never intended to go.

I glance down and saw that my last gesture had done the unthinkable. Every single button on the front of my new white blouse was undone. Every. Single. One.

My shirttails were flapping, I was three sheets to the wind...well, two, anyway.

I turned toward the board with a coolness to rival Bond, James Bond, buttoned up, turned back around and said, "See why you shouldn't skip English? You never know what you're going to miss."


  1. LMAO!

    There is a whole crop of English degrees out there because of you. :D Those kids never missed another class as long as they lived.



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