Tuesday, February 15

Do What We Do

Not just anyone can do what we do. And by we I mean we teachers.

Not just anyone can be a teacher.
Not just anyone can control a class of 23 teenagers with the raise of a hand.
Not just anyone can teach a poem with only five minutes of preparation.
Not just anyone can connect Ovid to Keats to Fitzgerald.
Not just anyone can talk about The Great Gatsby as if they just read it yesterday when in reality it's been 10+ years.

Not just anyone can do all that.
But I can.  Because I did all that today.  And it was awesome.

I arrived at school this morning to learn that my CT was out sick, so a substitute teacher would be carrying out her lesson plan.  Now I mean no disrespect to substitutes - they are an essential component to the educational system - but having a sub present a lesson is not the same as having a trained and certified teacher present a lesson.

Five minutes into the first class period, I could tell that the students had no clue what the sub was talking about, or why he was even talking about it.  There had been no front-loading - no pre-reading explanation to help them understand the what and the why.  So instead of letting the students sink further into the abyss of confusion and frustration, I gently took control of the class and helped the students understand the point of the lesson.  And the lesson happened to be a poem by John Keats: "Ode to a Nightingale."  I had just read the poem for the first time about five minutes before the first class started.  Of course as I read the poem over and over throughout the day, I was better able to help the students analyze and understand it, but what was so great about that first period was I was not afraid to dive head first into Keats with the students.  I fully admitted to them that I was still trying to understand the poem myself, but that together we could try to figure out what it all meant.

That's right.  I taught Keats today.  And it was awesome.

The second part of the lesson focused on connecting Keats to what the students are reading in The Great Gatsby.  Now it's been at least a decade since I've read Fitzgerald, but thanks to amazing instructors like GP, DL and JS, I was able to confidently help the students understand the assignment.

The next two classes went smoother than the first, but the whole experience made me realize something very important: Not just anyone can do what we do.  And what we do is awesome.


  1. Go you! And it's only the 2nd day on the job!

    Also, I love Keats! He's my favorite poet! (Besides Shakespeare.)

  2. You are awesome! I'm not sure I could do as well as I'm sure you did, but I would certainly try. I'm still working on the confidence part- I know that comes with time.

    GP, DL, and JS would be so proud right now!