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Suburban Island

Why I Admire Teachers
Thursday, Aug. 12, 2004, 8:29 p.m.

QUESTION: How many days left before we leave on vacation?

WHAT I LEARNED: People aren't always nice even when they may be nice people.

I taught a training class today that should have been a slam-dunk. It wasn't. Maybe it's the time of year, or the amount of rain we've gotten this week, or the caffeine in the coffee - I don't know. Whatever it was, this group made me question – at least for a second – my career choices, my skill set, and my usual delight in the joy of sharing knowledge with others. One of the attendees described the group as rambunctious. Maybe with a capital R. However, I'd be tempted to describe them as crossing over the invisible line to a place that is marked in big white chalk letters and spells out UNRULY.

A few hours of trying to keep this busy little group on task and following along with me was enough to make me realize how very lucky it is for the world that I am not a teacher of children. Yes, I am patient. Yes, I am kind. But I can't run 7 individual training sessions during 1 group training class - unless I could duplicate myself, and even then probably not with this assembly of personalities. I was starting to feel like maybe I had dropped into a very bad sequel to Sister Act 2 except without the sister and without a soundtrack and without Whoopee. I was bummed.

All of this makes me think of my son, who when I am really getting annoying, says to me – You’re so funny, Mother Teresa. After that terse but brilliant statement, what else can I do but shape up right away – and with a laugh. Unfortunately, these kids weren’t kids at all and they probably wouldn’t get the Mother Teresa joke if I told it to them and so I had to paste my friendly instructor smile on with even more vigor and go on with as much aplomb as I could manage.

Lucky for me, there was no paper available to this group for spitball making. Lucky for them there were no rulers handy for me to bounce of their very intelligent but disruptive heads.

Ah, yes, I must go back and read the spritopias discourse on tolerance versus acceptance. My acceptance capabilities were being rapidly eroded by this boisterous band of co-workers until my acceptance factor began to plummet into the simple tolerance zone - and maybe the feeling was mutual. Eventually, we made our peace and came to a place of learning. It was hard but it got done. In the end my advanced class – a subset of the larger group – turned into model students. Maybe it was as simple as the classic teacher/student ratio problem. Who’d have thought?

Not me.

There are days in the workplace where the best part of the day would be to discover a nice quiet room somewhere in which to just sob quietly into one’s hands for a few moments or even until it was time to go home. I don’t often feel this way. However today, for a few moments halfway through this class I really thought it sounded like a pretty valid approach to winding up my workday.

Instead, I drove home through the rain and thought about how I was going on vacation next week for a whole week and how – even though it was hard - I had just succeeded in putting down the last payment on that happy family trip.

Job complete.

DETAILS: Coffee: iced skim caramel machiotto – extra caramel + Listening to: rain, rain, rain + Observing: Lost in Translation + Thinking: I love summer + Weather: stormy weather.

Today’s Suburban Strategy: Shooting stars and the Queen of Scream.

Today’s Scenic Cam: Got a bike?

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