I am a teacher. I mean, I am a lot of things, but one of the more significant ones is that: Teacher.
There are all sorts of teachers. In fact, some of my most influential teachers have not been found in school. But I was lucky enough to have a few teachers in school who were all that, and in so being, mildly altered the course of my life. I have also had some really unfortunate teachers. Mostly those were people who didn’t want to teach because they didn’t like kids and/or what they were teaching. I am not sure what it was that sucked me into teaching, but the result has certainly made my life a lot more interesting. Teaching in Asia has also taught me a tremendous amount. In Asia lots of people are teachers who might not be teachers in other places. They are teaching their native language to people who want to learn that language and they make good money doing it. Those facts apply to me as well, but I happen to also love teaching, not because I speak (a derivative of ) English, but because… well, why exactly I am not sure. It just fits for me. I think it is the non-static nature of it, for better or for worse (I’m talking to you Texas.) I have been teaching high school Social Studies since 1995 and in many (most?) ways my work has defined who I am. I guess I think that is pretty cool. I have always worked in public schools and philosophically completely advocate for public education. This in spite of NCLB (education reform categorically opposed by teacher organizations and unions across the country) and offensive budget cuts and California laying off 22 thousand teachers this spring (after 26 k got pink slips last year…) So, philosophy aside, I may need to look elsewhere, but that’s cool.
So, considering the dismal job outlook, the untold numbers of teachers looking for work, and the apparent dearth of funds to educate our citizenry because the budget is “just not that into you,” why should you hire me instead of… well, all those other people? Here’s why:
- I have utility (oooh.. key word implementation.) I can teach, um… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5… 13 subjects (real talk) within my subject area and have about four years of experience teaching around a half a dozen more in the realm of humanities but outside of my credential area. I can also teach yoga now. Really. Oh, and I coach. I don’t always like to mention that, but hey, there you go (and I am an awesome free throw shooter and run a great NCAA pool every year.)
- I like working with teenagers. In fact, teenagers are more entertaining than just about any other demographic I can imagine… yeah, actually my clientele are the most entertaining because FoxNews is not really a demographic group, they are just batshit crazy. Here is a fun fact you may not be aware of: A lot of people who teach do not like kids. I know. Crazy. But true.
- I love school, like everything about it. <– geek. The pressure, the smells, studying, going to 7-11 at lunch, sports, mascots, work, the whole concept. Most importantly I am really getting into the ways that schools are starting to really look at pedagogy in new and alternative ways (big ups to the Google model!) Looking at the importance of project based learning, and encouraging innovation rather than rote activity makes school more fun for all of us. The people pushing for these changes and making education more obviously relevant get gold stars!
- I work really, really hard. For real. Part of it is because I have a giant ego, and part of it is because I actually like to try to find ways to make stuff interesting. Doesn’t always work, but… Hey, I want a gold star too!
- I grade really, uh… how would my students describe this… I am unable to come up with a PG-13 descriptor. I grade fairly. But I have expectations that some have thought were a little, um, unfair. Still, I think it would be hard to find students who thought I was arbitrary or didn’t give them all the tools and help they needed.
- I believe everyone needs to know how to write and be able to communicate in the appropriate way for the situation at hand. This sounds simple. It is not. People need to write more and find their voice. They do not need to write novels, or poems, or go into journalism… but they need to be able to say what they mean and be understood as they intend. That takes some practice. I like to make that happen.
- I am kind of funny. I know people who say they are funny are generally not funny. But I have a great audience and they provide a tremendous amount of material. Or maybe I am just super immature and so I fit in. But however you look at it, I am able to see the humor in things and I understand that there are certain things that you just cannot take too seriously. I also wear really nice shoes. I am not sure that fits in with the being funny, but it reminds me of one time when I was working in my classroom at Sparks High after school and one of my students who is about 6’8″ came in to ask about his homework. He stopped mid sentence and said, “Wait, what… something is weird.” I looked around, nonplussed. He looked down at my bare feet and he exclaimed, “Oh. My. God. YOU are short! You poseur!” And I cracked up. [Hi Curtis R., where ever you are.]
- I read a lot. I see a lot of movies too, so I can make connections to stuff that my students find interesting and occasionally I even surprise them. I also have been known to push the curricular envelope and bring in some stuff that really gets them thinking. Prison, capital punishment, South Park, civil disobedience, sitting in “trenches” and literally getting tied up to your allies. We have some fun. Also, I have caught a few of my students reading the books I used in class: WIN.
- I have a hard time saying no. This can be a pain, but has led to some really fun stuff at the schools where I have worked as far as extracurricular activities go, doing things I might not normally consider.
- I travel. A lot. This has given me experiences, perspectives and opportunities that are pretty cool. My passport reflects my world view. Discuss.
- I hang out at school. So, I am available. Pretty much all 180 days of the year, at games, in class, at lunch before school; I’m down. If you have been in my classroom even if you weren’t my student, you know this is true. Which leads me to another point, my classrooms are always totally bitchin’. I have cools stuff in them and they are always well-organized. Unless people are messing with me (hello Matt F and CamDog.)
- I am a good story-teller. This may be the cornerstone of my dossier. I have good stories to tell and I like to share them. My misadventures around the globe can be some of the best examples in Geography (I will keep them out of Government class…) and History, and I really like what I teach so maybe that is evident and at least my kids feel bad about hating on it in front of me. That’s cool, I don’t mind because it gets the job done.
I am not sure if those reasons are really all that impressive, or even if they set me apart that much. I also have the basic resume type qualifications and skills and stuff. That is not as interesting to me, though I know it is important. I can also do lots of other stuff besides teaching. For real. Like writing and editing, photography and self-publishing, logisitcal and long-range planning, you know… I am multivariate. In summary I am a geek who can play ball and loves to read with a tendency towards sarcasm and lacking in myopia who believes that people will be able to achieve more if they are exposed to lots of things and have a chance to try things and screw them up and come up with better plans and make things work. <– Those people are the ones we are going to have to turn to in the future to sort our situation out, so let’s give then a hand now and let them be students and develop the kind of system where they might actually want to be.
Anyhow, I am mostly being serious here and I definitely do need a job. And that job needs to be in America, preferably for the fall of 2010. Any takers?