If one applies himself to study to become a teacher, a large part of the undergraduates won’t be as motivated as they should be. Because when the degrees were finished it is an advantage to be serious about pursuing this profession, not only for oneself but also for the pupils. The occupation as a teacher is not well-suited for the faint-hearted as less as for the cold-hearted and if one is wishing to end up happy there is nothing but adopting his balance.
In my recent years, which also were my last ones, as a hard-working headmaster I had deliberated on the question whether I succeeded or not. Of course I have arrived in the upper class of the educational system but: did the pupils see me as a good teacher, too? Without noticing my stray thoughts lead me to long forgotten times…
Austerity and Serenity
“Good morning, pupils. My name is Mr. Miller and I am your new teacher in American Literature”, I, a modest man nearly thirty years old, introduced myself as an official recognized educator for the very first time. When the eighth grade of the Odgen International School of Chicago regarded me with curiosity I became slightly anxious. When I was an assistant teacher I had known for certainty that if anything catastrophic happened another man would be on hand with help and advice for me. But henceforth there was no one who supported me by resolving conflicts. While taking a deep breath I opened the class book and skimmed the names of my future disciples.
“Gregory Black”, slowly the name passed through my lips and my glance casted over the faces of the adolescents. A casually dressed boy with a gold chain and a sportily short hairstyle raised his head and glowered superciliously at me. Based on a sinister hunch, I already knew that this lad was going to cause piles of trouble.
“Would you be good enough to tell us any of the most important American writers?” As soon as I posed the question an asinine grin appeared on his lips and he lay back in his chair.
“Of course, buddy”, he started talking marvelously, “I think Steven Spielberg is a great one.” The whole class began to laugh and I wondered why I was the jinx that has to be confronted with such a teacher-hating student in the first lesson. But as the phrase went: What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
“Steven Spielberg may be a great scriptwriter and stage director. However, can you tell me who wrote the novel ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’?” I retorted calmly, with that hoped to clarify my position, his challenging remark. Gregory for his part placed his feet on the desk and lowered upwards as though he was chosen to be king and I was his servant.
“Mr. However-you-are-called, do you really believe that a Gregory Black has to know these dispensable facts of life. I’m going to be a football star after high school; I really don’t need these things.” And I already cast doubt on my decision of becoming a teaching but for some reason I refused to see my failing, so I presented Mark Twain’s classic book.
“Well, Gregory, I’ll make sure that you won’t be allowed to attend the football team if your grades aren’t satisfactory.” Then I addressed the whole crowd. “I want you to read this book until the next month; and for now: Please take out a pencil and a piece of paper. I want you to write a short essay about your favorite book. But do not worry I won’t mark them because I just like to become acquainted with you.” As soon as I concluded my last sentence Gregory stormed furiously out of the classroom however all the other pupils accepted my task unquestioningly.
Organization, Interaction and Dedication
During the following weeks I occasionally caught one or two pupils who were half asleep whereupon I began to wonder if my classroom management was really that pedestrian. Fortunately Gregory reined his insubordination and henceforth he did not longer disrupt the lesson. Solely he replied saucily every once in a while but that was a minor misbehavior I could cope with. Truth be told, betimes I was deeply grateful for the invigorating diversions because afterwards the pupils were mentally present and for the next 5 minutes I was able to raise relevant discussions. But one day I reached the point when I was bent to break the monotony of a theoretical education, so I decided to run a content-related project. Since I already gained the approval and the respect of the students, the time had come to implement measures which completed my erstwhile mentor’s ultimate ambition: A lesson should be happen in a way in that the student doesn’t cherish the teacher but the subject.
“Kids, the next lessons won’t take place in our classroom – we will go to the gymnasium and rehearse a stage play about Huckleberry Finn.” As I announced my intention the class suddenly became excited and started talking. Although I knew that I would occupy a large part of my recreation with it, a thrill of anticipation awaked. To put an icing on the cake I walked to Gregory and admitted with a wink: “You would be an admirable Huckleberry.” His dark brown eyes gleamed.
Sense of Responsibility and Condonation
“Mr. Miller!”, Sandy, a girl with huge glasses, screamed, “Please help!” As quick as possible I was on the spot and witnessed how Gregory beat up his classmate Rico, which was a lot smaller than the leader of the class. The fellow students, who had circled around the two, sparked him off to keep punching. Without missing a beat I interposed and tried to retain the two boys with my extended arms.
“What in the dickens is going on, guys?” In an imperious way I drowned the voices of the two classmates and suddenly the whole gymnasium was quiet - all faces were turned to our direction. Upon a closer examination I recognized Rico was graced with a black eye on the right side of his face, but when he noticed that I was looking at him he dropped his gaze.
“Gregory said that Rico has taken his lunchbox. But Rico didn’t take it”, Sandy declared in high dudgeon. “Gregory bothers Rico anyway the whole time. You have to stop him otherwise he will keep doing it.”
After I talk to both of the boys I went to their form teacher and shared the incident. When I asked him whether it was a frequent occurrence, he affirmed dismissively.
“That is not your business”, he explained to me. “The kids have to sort this out between them otherwise they will never grow up.” I cocked my eyebrows as I apprehended his statement which was quite unacceptable in my opinion.
“Are you actually implying that if pupils are larruped I should stand on the sidelines? They are still children!” I replied beside myself with anger because I couldn’t understand how it could be possible to have such a point of view as a teacher.
“You have to learn that you don’t take anything too close to heart. If you don’t burn it into your mind, you will go down in this profession.” Taken by completely surprise I glared at him for the reason that he, a long-time educator, hadn’t even get the gist of being a teacher.
Since he didn’t agree to support me with my purposes, I decided to carry it out on my own. In my considered option there was nothing else to do but enlighten Gregory about his misfeature otherwise he would probably act in this way his whole life and that was a fact I couldn’t endorse. However, I didn’t take it for his fault because it was all a question of a good education and how should Gregory know how to deal fairly with fellow humans when nobody explained it to him?
Separation between Work and Personal Life
In this day and age I know that looking after pupils has no truck with taking anything too close to heart: it is just a matter of responsibility. After I have taken this trip down memory lane I feel reinvigorated about my manner of teaching. Slowly I close my office door and the door to my working life for the very last time. While turning the key the finitude of life saddens me and my heart sinks but inside I know that all good things come to end. There are several plans for my immediate annuity and I really look forward to it. On account of this, I leave the school with a laughing and a crying eye. Farewell!