Uh, that was my Sally Field impersonation, if you couldn’t tell. I didn’t teach last night, spent the whole day home sick and my dear friend Grace taught my class. Grace also happens to be my boss at my night job and is a really wonderful, creative, world-class teacher. We’ve known each other for years, and I can’t imagine anyone I’d rather have work with my kids.
… but … I find that I’m more than a little possessive of my class, that the idea of ‘letting’ someone else teach them dredges up all my teaching insecurities: what if they like Grace’s teaching style better than mine, what if they don’t want me to come back, what if … I don’t know what else, but it always makes me nervous and vulnerable, as if they’ll spend the evening with Grace making a giant list of all my flaws as an instructor.
Well, of course that didn’t happen, did it? Of course not. They started the class trying to take advantage of the fact that they had someone other than me in the room and asked the question they’ve wanted the answer to all term: “How old is Stacie?” I should have seen that one coming! Grace deflected that and got them to work. She had prepared an amazing lesson, and they really got into it, and they did a lot of work, which she left for me to check out. (And the work they did really was stand-out. I’ve a sheaf of text-to-self writings to work through for tomorrow!)
I had actually planned not to teach tonight, to take a second full day off to shake this sickness once and for all, but I didn’t like the idea of making Grace work two nights in a row, so I went in. And, too, Wednesday’s are short nights for me because the last hour of class the students have group with the counselor so I can take off, so that was my plan. Students started coming in, everyone talking at once: “How are you?” “I was afraid you wouldn’t be here.” “How could you desert us?” “We thought you forgot about us.” “How you couldn’t come in just for an hour or two, Miss?”
Did they like Grace’s class? An emphatic yes. The story was great, the discussion was great, it was all great. “But we missed you,” Raj said. “You’re our teacher, not Grace.” Ok, so that was nice. “Yeah, we told her about all the work you give us,” Jeovany said. “We made sure she knows you’re good.” “Did you think that was like a test for you?” asked Silvia. “Your boss teaches your class to see if you really know what you’re doing?” “But we were good, Miss,” said Raj. “Did you see how much Jeovany wrote? Did you see all that work Billy did?” (I did see, and I was mightily impressed. I have the hardest time getting any work out of Billy!)
So yeah, they like me. They can be taught by a master teacher and still want to come ‘home’ to me. It’s so silly that I go through this, but I can’t seem to help it. It’s silly because I know I’m a good teacher. And it’s silly because I want them to work with other teachers, want them to be promoted from my class into the next level. And it’s silly because teaching isn’t a popularity contest — they need to learn from me and work with me, not like me … Yeah, whatever. Of course I want them to like me … and I already know that they do … but it’s nice to have them come out and say it once in a while.