This morning, I asked my AP Lang students to take out their notebooks and respond to the following prompt, “List five things you’ve done that you never thought you’d do.”
There were some interesting, if not random, responses. Among them:
- I never thought I’d get almost arrested in Atlantic City.
- I never thought I’d grow up.
- I never thought I’d like almonds.
- I never thought I’d need spring break so much.
- I never thought I’d be at school past 2 a.m.
- I never thought I’d pull an all-nighter.
My students have been blogging weekly on any topic of their choice, and our in-class notebook writes sometimes serve as inspiration for a longer piece on the class blog.
I wrote along side them this morning, so here are my “Five Things I Never Thought I’d Do…” I never thought I’d…
- Be a teacher. I was incredibly introverted when I was younger, and even in high school, I barely participated in class. In fact, it wasn’t until college that I finally forced myself to speak up (the trick, I learned, was to make myself ask/answer a question within the first week of class). So the fact that I became a teacher and stand in front of 120+ students a day? That boggles my mind.
- Count/organize faculty gowns. As one of the senior class faculty co-advisors, I’m helping to organize commencement this year. And one of my tasks is to organize all the gowns that the faculty wear that night. I never thought I’d know so much about what color hood goes with what discipline and the difference in sleeve length between a person with a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
- Write daily. I wanted to be an English teacher, in large part, because I loved to read. I loved discussing books and breaking them down and discovering their secrets. So even though I knew I would have to teach students how to write essays, it wasn’t until several years into my career that I realized that my job wasn’t really about teaching students how to write essays at all. It was about teaching students how to become writers. And to do that, I had to see myself as a writer. I owe this shift in my thinking to the PA Writing and Literature Project. Since becoming a fellow of the project in 2009, I’ve written regularly with my students, but also for myself. I read once that the best writing teachers are teachers who are writers. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true, but I know I am much better writing teacher today, as a writer, than I ever was before.
- Organize prom. Just last year, I joked with my juniors that I had never chaperoned prom before because I felt it was a “conflict of interest.” “That’s true, Mrs. Ebarvia,” one student quipped, “because you can’t unsee something once you see it.” I laughed, and yet here I am a year later, not only chaperoning prom but, as senior class co-advisor, helping to organize it. This year’s theme, by the way, is “rustic chic.”
- Worry about peanut allergies.This one isn’t related to teaching like the others, but ever since my 2nd grader was diagnosed with a peanut allergy when he was 4, we’ve had to learn to be vigilant. It’s also all new to us since no one in our family has ever had a peanut allergy. So far, nothing too serious, save the one trip to the emergency room after he was afraid he’d accidentally eaten some peanut butter frozen yogurt.
I’m certain that there are at least 5, 10, 15, or really countless more things I’ve done that I never thought I’d do. I never thought I’d become a teacher, yet here I am. I also never thought I’d be one of those “lifer” teachers—those that spend their entire life in the classroom, 30 years or more—yet here I am, almost halfway there… and having a hard time imagining doing anything else.
This post is part of the “Slice of Life” series, organized by the teachers at Two Writing Teachers, whose goal is to give teachers a place to write and reflect. This March, more than 250 teachers have committed to daily writing. If you’d like to read more “slices” (from other teachers and even some students), visit twowritingteachers.wordpress.com/challenges.