Too many people have been asking me what my little stint in teaching was like. Was it scary, was it amusing, was it boring, was it frustrating? Did I make great inroads in education? Did I chicken out and do absolutely nothing? The questions were getting overwhelming, so I sat down and thought.
I always laughed when professors said that there are few career choices more invigorating and satisfying than teaching. I had thought there could be nothing more scary or more boring than getting up in front of a whole bunch of people to talk to, and try to influence. And to be very honest, in all the classes I taught, there wasn’t a single one in which I wasn’t downright terrified – or one that didn’t leave me absolutely exhilarated. I developed quirks – if I didn’t wear my teacher shoes, I would have an awful lecture. If I didn’t wear my silver anklet, I would have an awful lecture. If I didn’t listen to Boogie Wonderland at least 5 times before the class, I would have an awful lecture. Now, of course, I realize, the songs, the shoes and the accessories didn’t matter. As long as certain students – who I grew to love as part of myself – attended, I would be fine.
Creative Writing isn’t a subject that can be taught. There are no rights or wrongs. The most any Creative Writing teacher can do is get their students to love to write and then hope for the best. So, obviously, once I understood this, I had the time of my life. A subject I was hired to teach, but couldn’t actually TEACH? It was better than tea on a rainy day, shoes on sale, bookshelves filled with books you’ve never read. Once I entered the class, opened my mouth and started teaching, I didn’t know how or why time could fly so fast. Classes that were supposed to last for 45 minutes, stretched to an hour, more than an hour, stretched until I’d invariably be kicked out by the professor next to teach.
Now, unfortunately for me, teaching seems to have become an extension of who I am. All the bossiness, the creepily obsessive love for spelling & grammar, the loud voice, the creative restlessness, all merged into an option I’d never considered – I love to teach. I loved using my red pen on scrawled notepaper on Sunday mornings, I loved the thrill of reading a particularly good essay, I loved whacking students with dictionaries to help improve their language. I loved that I could bring in my straw hat into class and make it a lecture. I even loved the migraines of abysmal essays. And now, I cant wear a hat, use a red pen, wear my teacher shoes, lift a dictionary or even see lined paper without feeling a tremendous gush of exhilaration of what I had felt and a great sense of loss at the students I left behind.
So yes, teaching is anyday better than teatime – with or without cake.