Thursday, May 05, 2005

Teacher's Barnyard Animal

On the day I became college professor, I arrived on campus an hour early, but wished to present an air of authority and sweep in the door at the exact moment the class was to begin, so I did the grown-up and professional thing and hid in my car.

I really had nothing to be scared of. I gots me an MFA from a high-caliber writing program and two undergraduate degrees from a college which U.S. News and World Report recently ranked #1 as Best Private Liberal Arts School Featuring a Mascot That Is In Fact a Gigantic Crepe Paper Bell.

I should have stayed in the car, because what followed were six months of such conversations as the following:

ME: We’re going to watch a DVD of some speeches. I want you to think about what we discussed in class today, and take notes on what you’re noticing about effective public speaking techniques.

STUDENT: We’re supposed to take notes?

ME: Yes.

STUDENT: So…you want us to… actually write stuff down, or what?

Sometimes we plowed through deep philosophical discussions on the content of what we had just watched:

ME: Now, what did you notice about the word choice the President used in his speech?

STUDENT: It was scary.

ME: Scary how?

STUDENT: He wants the United States to be all about world domination.

ME:
Okay, and what made you think that?

STUDENT: Like. The things he was saying.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of teaching was finding something encouraging to say to each and every student after they tried their own hands at speaking. Speechifyin’ is scary and difficult even when the speaker is not simultaneously hung over and high, so I wanted to give everybody something write to the source of the tuition checks about.

I spent a lot of time typing “I am so very proud of you for not spontaneously combusting as you walked to the podium.”

Overall, things went better than I thought they would, seeing as I spent the first ten minutes immediately after I left the class having worst coughing fit in the whole entire history of ever. Because when you’re teaching back-to-back 90- minute classes on public speaking, what you want to do is completely lose the ability to talk.

This took place in the presence of Friendboy Andy, who was all, “So how’d it go?”

“HACKHACKHACKHACKHACKHACKHACKHACKHACKHACK,” I replied.

“That's great!”

“HackHACKHACKhack,” I added.

Names were a problem; I often refer to my own baby nephew as “the short pooping one over there,” so you can just imagine how well things went with over forty students, fifty percent of which, the male fifty percent, were all wearing exactly the same baseball cap.

There was one name I never had any trouble with.

“Myron?” I said as I called the roll on the first day.

Myron raised his hand.

“Did I pronounce your last name properly?”

He nodded.

“Are there any nicknames you’d prefer that I use?”

He nodded.

“And what is that?”

“Rooster.”

So not only was I teaching, I was teaching a sitcom character, one who later revealed himself as a person who was operating under the assumption that each Pope inherits the office from his daddy.

When we gave demonstration speeches, Rooster taught everybody how to tie a fishing knot, which went splendidly until he made a cast and the hook buried itself in the ponytail of a girl sitting in the second row. We are exiting the Semester of the Rooster, which the Chinese astrologers I hang around with predicted would be marked by psychological moroseness, economic hardship, and difficulty restoring balance. Or, you know, actually writing things down.

totally not calling Friendboy Andy a hack at: blondechampagne@hotmail.com

1 comment:

Public speaker said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Previous Tastings