Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why I can never be a teacher

I try to avoid thinking back on certain moments in my life because I feel waves and waves of awkwardness when I do. My thesis defense, for example. I can't spend more than 3 seconds thinking about my defense before I feel overwhelmed with feelings of awkwardness/anxiety/horror. It was a perfectly fine defense, and I passed without revision, but I still somehow feel horrified that two people witnessed me give the answers I gave. For two straight hours. And I feel similarly when I think back to how I reacted like a monster to a certain golf cart rental company in Ohio when they incorrectly overcharged me $53 and wouldn't refund my money (though part of me still believes they deserved it). And I feel the same way when I think back to how I treated my friend Destiny in middle school. It's a mixture of awkwardness, regret, and horror that I'm still walking around on this earth when there are people out there who have seen me at my worst.

But most of my waves-of-awkwardness moments are centered around teaching. Like thinking back to anytime I've ever been observed. Or when I somehow calculated a student's final grade as a B+ during a student conference when they were actually getting a C+ in the class. Or when I let my students watch an entire episode of The Office during class.

And one of these waves-of-awkwardness moments happened again today when I taught Relief Society. I was already a little frustrated by the topic--not a lot of room to talk about personal experiences, and I felt underqualified to be teaching a topic that we don't have an extensive amount of information on. I'm not good at thinking on my feet. So, when someone asked a question that I didn't know the answer to, I was caught off guard and flustered and gave incorrect information about a really basic principle. The presidency corrected me, and a couple people gave additional comments to clarify. It really wasn't a big deal, and in my brain I can recognize this. But it somehow doesn't stop the constant waves of awkwardness I've felt all day. I tried joking about it with some people after church to squelch the feelings but to no avail. I tried being logical, telling myself that it was NBD, that it was a small portion of an otherwise decent lesson, that most people weren't paying attention anyway, that no one would remember by next week. And now I'm trying a blog confession to see if sending this off into the cosmic void will help ease my mind. But it's still bothering me.

And this is why I can never be a high school English teacher as I have secretly always dreamed. Even though I love teenage angst, high school classrooms, and working with students on their writing, I can't get over the constant waves of awkwardness/anxiety I feel about my performance in the classroom. It's really too bad.


Renny said...

I feel your pain but this did make me laugh a little bit. Especially "even though I love teenage angst." The teenagers are so angsty that they will go back and forth between ignoring the awkwardness and purposely causing it with their angst.

I was recently thinking about a time in the 7th grade that I was mean to a girl just because my friends said that I could never do it, I was too nice, and that made me mad... 12 year olds are so stupid but thinking about it now I just felt like such an idiot, so I looked for the girl on Facebook, I needed to ease my conscience I guess, see that she still had a good life despite my moment of stupidity. She does.

Elisa said...

First, you're the best.
Second, I totally get the waves of awkwardness thing. Like the time when I misquoted something in my 293 class and got called out by a student. And then some snotty English undergrad wrote up the entire incident in my teacher rating. If I think about this for more than 10 seconds I feel a little bit sick to my stomach.
Third, I miss you.
Fourth, I love angst too (and I laughed when I read that). Today a friend of mine was telling me about how she thinks someone is mad at her, and I literally squealed with delight. The drama is my fuel!
Fifth, I think you would be an amazing high school English teacher. I wonder if all the awkwardness you'd get to observe your poor students endure would overshadow everything else? (Oh gosh, that made me think of another awkward thing I can barely let myself think about--the time I FAINTED while student teaching.)
Sixth, this is the longest blog comment I've ever written. Awkward.