I’m a fraud. I try to be upfront about it with my students and not just pull answers out of my butt. But, I’ve taught many subjects that I don’t really know. Just because I have a teaching certificate doesn’t mean I know everything. But I do know how to find answers. Google is my best friend. When I taught English, which was actually my major in college, the kids read novels I never read before so I secretly read with them. When a student asks a question from the book ahead of where I am, I answer with “That’s a good question. Who can answer?” “Let’s google it.” I am pretty well read, but the books I read in college are not the ones we have in high school classes. Even in college for the certification test, I had a cheat sheet of sorts. A little helper. Don’t get me wrong, I was and still am a voracious reader. I read classics long before college. My aunt, an English teacher herself, used to feed me books when I was young. I read everything the professors assigned. But there were questions on the certification tests from books I had never read. There were questions on books that I never taught as an English teacher. Not because I didn’t do my assignments, but just because of the sheer volume of books out there. I read what my teachers assigned. I would not have passed the certification test without that “study guide”.
The other day in my International Studies class I got caught. We watched CNN Student News to see what’s happening in the world. A story about South Sudan was introduced. A student made a comment about it being a country. I said it is not. South Africa is a country. No, South Sudan has been a country for several years now. How did I miss that? I read news stuff all the time. I thought South Sudan referred to the southern part of the country. I felt I was fairly up to teaching this class. I’ve had it for a couple of years now. This is one of those classes that I learn as I go. Fly by the seat of my pants kind of class. I also teach an Intro to Law class. I have no background at all in that subject. The very 1st day, a kid asked me a “hypothetical” question about getting arrested and posting bail. That one I actually knew the answer because of one of my own kids. I could answer with confidence. Later I called the kid and told him thanks for the real life experience. He didn’t find it as funny as I did.
I was sitting in the beauty shop getting my hair done. As I was waiting for my color to set, I noticed a couple of other teachers scattered around the room in various stages of hair prepartation–under hair dryers or waiting with their hair foiled. They were dutifully and thoughtfully grading papers as they waited. I just went back to playing Candy Crush.