Thursday, June 16, 2011

Career Hazards

I started off college majoring in Biology, although I had no clear plans as to what career path this would lead to.  But, when I threw a flaming test tube across my lab bench and let out a blood curdling scream during a chemistry class, the look the professor gave me made me realize that I had no business working with fire or hazardous chemicals, or any combination of the two.  The professor's subsequent question of "What is wrong with you?" made me question myself.  What is wrong with me?  I still liked science, but it was true, for the safety of others, I should not be practicing it.  It was time to change my major.

My Mom suggested that I go to the Career Counseling office and take one of those interest inventories that helps you determine which career would suit your interests.  The results came back saying I should be a gardener, which I found surprising since I have yet to keep a plant alive for any extended period of time.  Back to the drawing board.

When I thought of the things I loved to do like reading (I took books with me everywhere, to the point where my Mom had to explain that it was rude to read at family functions) and writing (If you haven't read "The Falcon Museum Mystery" that I wrote in the 7th grade, you really should) I realized that I must find a way to pursue them.  And, the reason I chose to major in biology in the first place was that my favorite classes in high school were my biology classes.  Sure, I found the subject interesting, but I really loved the class because of the great teacher I had, Mrs. Pritts.  This got me to thinking, and I decided to become an English teacher, in hopes that I could someday make students love reading and writing in the same way that Mrs. Pritts made me love biology.

But, once I started taking English classes, I began to notice a trend: nearly all English professors are eccentric and strange.  For instance, there was the professor who wore extremely wrinkled clothing, collected flamingos, and was obsessed with the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space.  She found a way to work that film into every class I took with her, whether it was Technical Writing or 18th Century Women's Literature.  Or, the Luddite professor who didn't use a computer, wore moon boots in every season, and had a wart on her tongue that she frequently scraped across her top teeth.  Was this my destiny?

I comforted myself that I wouldn't wear a leather beret, become a raving feminist or start finding sexual references in every poem I read (like some other professors I had) because I was just going to be a high school teacher.  Maybe you only reached that level of weirdness when you taught at the college level.  But, when I thought back to my high school English teachers, that bit of solace didn't last long.

I think I'm doing okay, though, because this coming fall I will start my tenth year of teaching and I have yet to succumb to many of the behaviors of my high school teachers.

I have not:

1.  worn a necklace made of cat hair (I still swear that was what that necklace was made of.)

2.  had a potato placed in my hand by a student without realizing it and then twenty minutes later freaked out when I noticed it

3.  worn gigantic peeper glasses (my eyesight is, thankfully, still good)

4.  gone an entire semester without actually speaking to my class, while they complete vocabulary workbooks and I stare out the window

5.  forgone teaching for the day in order to discuss a recent episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 (or whatever show kids are watching these days)

6.  filled my filing cabinets with make-up, hairspray and teasing combs for my frequent primping

7.  exhibited a look of bored indifference when a student tore all of the pages out of a textbook, wrote on the walls, or hung out of a two story window

And, last but not least, I have not gone to Eat'n Park in the middle of the night without any pants on and then got my picture taken with my students (one of whom would later write about it on the Internet and display the photo).

I know that I have made the right career decision because I love my job, and I can't imagine myself doing anything different.  And, as far as becoming strange and eccentric, I just try to take it day by day and stay strong.

1 comment:

  1. I love Mrs. Pritts!

    Only had one normal English professor. But he did comment on how "white" and nice my paper was and said, "I almost do not want to write on it" while smelling it. The other professor consistently referenced Choco Tacos and always looked like she slept in her clothes.