Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Not too hot for teacher

My last year of undergrad, I taught a freshman course. It was a Student Leadership class focused on current events as well as basic University 101 to ease transition from high school to college. I taught two semesters and had about 30 freshman in each class. Most of them were fantastic. However, you will always have at least one jackass challenge.

Early on in my first semester of teaching, one particular student loved to ask banal questions irrelevant to the discussion. This went on three times a week. Usually harmless albeit annoying. His topics ranged from Rice Krispies to why can't freshman drink legally. One day he brought up University policies and the Chancellor. I encouraged him to stay on topic but would be happy to chat after class.  He asked me what I was going to do when his Dad called me to ask the same questions.

I said, “I am going to tell your Dad that I hope he enjoyed making his initial investment to the University and perhaps he could come to campus for a game or two before you fail all your classes and don’t return for next semester."

Silence.

Then: “I am not going to fall all my classes,” he said with less veracity.
"Likely failing this one.”

He was much more congenial after that episode. But he didn’t quite get me the world's best teacher mug that year.

The second semester, all of my students were great. And the semester clicked along well. However, the week after spring break, when people are still in vacation mode and hesitant to jump back into academia too quickly, one night found me out with many friends at a great bar across the river called Johnny’s. In addition to consumption, there was loud music, dancing on chairs, and there may or may not have been a cigarette or two involved. At one point, while on top of chair wailing away to that once awesome song, Here Comes the Hotstepper, I get a tap on my leg. There is Josh, a student from my Student Leadership class. As I get down from the chair, long neck of Bud in one hand, and possibly a Marlboro Light in the other (during a very brief social smoking phase), he turns to the man next to him and says (quasi-shouts) “Dad, this is Jenny. I am in one of her classes. ”
 
Uncomfortable.
We move away from the vortex of the mayhem and the conversation continues. 

The Dad says, “My son tells me you’re one of his professors.” I think it was a question more than a statement. I am certain he is envisioning how much simpler it would be too simply take his money and throw it in the river for how impressed he can certainly NOT be with the vignette he is seeing.

Uncomfortable.
Me: No, I am not a professor actually. And certainly not a drinking, smoking, dancing on a chair professor but I do teach one of his classes. I smile. See, isn't this conversation fun!

The Dad: They allow non-faculty members to teach classes?
Me: Well, I am an honors student and it is a student leadership class.
The Dad: What year are you?
Me: I graduate this semester.
The Dad: And then what?

Uncomfortable. And wow, this feels like a significant number of questions. I notice Josh seems giddy like its a day at the beach club.

Me: And then I will be attending law school.

I am certain he is envisioning how the legal profession is no longer straight and narrow. Thankfully I am not wearing a crop top which I assure you were 1. fashionable at the time and 2. a staple in my wardrobe. I wait for the blow, except he tells me he is an attorney. And that it never hurts to blow off a little steam.

Steam! Precisely! And at the time it made me realize, as a kid or even a high school student you have no idea what your teachers are like as people. And I am sure many of them are driven to drink after spending the day with other people's children. Even the good ones.

The following week, Josh tells me how “awesome” it was that he saw me “out tearing it up”. I told him his parents must be pretty cool. He said his Mom was pretty displeased when she found out he was in a bar with a fake ID but that she was none too thrilled when he told her he was "partying" with one of his teachers there. Another shot at the title mug, ruined.

(And next class lesson included just a few words about the art of discretion for example do NOT tell your Mom you think it is "awesome" you saw your teacher "out tearing it up". Ever. Dads might like to hear their son make this statement. Moms will not.)

24 comments:

singedwingangel said...

I don't know I think I would like to hear my son's say he saw his teacher in a bar having a good time. Ya'll are people too and deserve a break and some fun.

Jenn @ Youknow...that Blog? said...

All of my profs were really old (had to be at LEAST 40... haha... *sigh*) so it would have been disturbing to meet them in a bar. However, I think you probably made a great impact on Josh at least, and no doubt the other kids in class.

B.o.B. said...

It's always so freakin' awesome to see teachers/profs out in the world. It startled me as a teen to see them doing very banal stuff. Like they were actually REAL PEOPLE. Ca-razy. LOL!

Ed said...

I used to freak whenever I saw one of my teachers outside of school.

Especially at the strip club.

SmartBear said...

My first yar out of graduate school, I was working in a school district while looking for clinical jobs. The superintendent came to address the crowd of new (mostly young) employees of the district. After waiting several minutes, he finally took the stage only to say one thing:
"Welcome to Liberty. You are the best of the best. If you are going to drink, smoke or dance on the tables? Take it to Johnson County. Have a great school year".
Best orientation ever.
And Johnnys? Oh yes...I was there in my cropped shirt and my matte makeup with my cigarettes.
Best,
Tina

Liza said...

You so know how to tell a good story!

AmyLK said...

Its so weird to have contact with your teachers outside of school. I am friends with my 7th grade teacher on fb and he talks about getting laid! lalalalalala! I don't want to hear that! lol

Bird Shit and Baby Caca said...

I never got to see any of my teachers blowing off steam. must have been awesome for the kid, not so awesome for you LOL

Pricilla said...

My father liked that I married a lawyer. He also said he didn't like knowing that they were human....

Eva Gallant said...

Wow! I'll bet you were wishing yu were anywhere but there! lol

Mommy Lisa said...

Awwww, Come ON! If MiniMac told you, you would beam. ;)

Sex'n'Fries said...

Great stuff, I am married to a Prof. and am suppose to behave accordingly...yeah never mind, let's not go there.

KittyCat said...

I dont know, college is for growing up and learning new things right. : )

Yeah I definately wouldnt want my soccerboy doing that either.

Mrs Montoya said...

Oh - I miss people that say "tearing it up". And crop tops. And my social smoking phase. You are so good at taking me back to the "good ol' days". LOVE IT!!

J.J. in L.A. said...

In 6th grade, during "open house" a bunch of us saw our health teacher smoking a ciggie. The next day, I asked, "Smoking is bad for you, isn't it?" She, "Very." Me, "Then why did you do it last night in the teacher's lounge?"

Silence.

ajm said...

Arg! I've been teaching high school for ten years, which means it was bound to happen eventually. And it did. Some former students caught me in a similar environment. And they, being 21 and me being old, bought me a shot. I wanted to die.

But, on another evening, in a similar environment again, I ran into my daughter's pre-school teacher. And though I was initially surprised, I was quite happy to see her out at the bar. I mean -- preschool kids would have driven me to raging alcoholism, and she seemed to be handling herself just fine.

Maria said...

Nothing is as sobering as getting caught red handed by a student, forget about a parent. I bet that kid never forgot you...or that father either, come to think of it...

Thanks for the laugh! Unfortunately, teachers are still thought of as old fashioned, straight laced school marms...Nothing could be further from the truth, I can assure you!

Herding Cats said...

As a teacher, I think I would probably DIE if a student saw me partying (and yes, I still do that occasionally!) You handled that very well!

Little Ms J said...

Awesome. If it was my student they'd have likely seen me with my tongue down some random boys throat, boob in hand. I applaud your strength.

Possum said...

Classic tale!!

the walking man said...

Seems to me there were many things you learned in college...about not telling your mom about. I have been reading here over a year JennyM and now I have stories of yours I remember. So what you're saying is you learned to teach discretion by practicing discretion?

The Absence of Alternatives said...

LOL. You are definitely right. MOMS will not be pleased. :-) You will find out for yourself soon (esp. since I am expecting MiniMac to grow up to be quite a looker due to the gene pool he came from!)

Jenn@the loves of jenn said...

I am driven to drink almost daily by my two little ones. I'm sure it's no different for teachers! :)

Vivienne said...

Holy cats! JMac, when is your book being published? You know you should be writing one, right...?