These guys won't be at convocation, will they?
This week I finally become a man.
A "teacher man," that is. Sorry to disappoint so early in the post...
One of the requirements of being an instructor at Red River College is that you agree to take 10 Certificate in Adult Education (CAE) courses over six years to officially become qualified to teach.
As I've said before, it's like RRC saying, "Now that we've hired you as an instructor, you should learn how to be an instructor." OK!
The good news is that I'm putting away my last CAE class this week, so I will soon get my highly coveted certificate - suitable for framing or selling on eBay, should worse come to worse. More importantly, I get a pack of Tim Hortons gift certificates and a Red River College mug from my boss.
I have never tasted free coffee out of a free mug, but I imagine it tastes something like victory. And, no, I won't share.
A few, closing thoughts about the good that comes from teachers embracing lifelong learning, before I let the proverbial door hit me on the proverbial butt on the way out:
1. Teachers are the worst students. So they should be students more often.
When I take a CAE class every year, I'm reminded that my attention span has never been worse, which - let it be said - has absolutely nothing to do with who's teaching the class.
I start to get sleepy about five minutes in, and wonder to myself, "Why am I so not able to listen or pay attention?" Then I remember: because I'M not talking.
Yes, six years of teaching has made me a glory hog and much worse listener than I would be, were I only a mortal man without a teaching certificate.
Like a stand-up comic who goes to see another stand-up comic, I sit in the classroom and think, "Give me the floor, and I'll really show these melon ranchers what it's about!"
But once the sleepiness takes hold, I can only stare out the window and wonder why I must be a captive in school while those merry squirrels outside get to jump around from branch to branch all day, every day.
Lead item on tonight's squirrel news: "Humans hate our freedom!"
Oh, yeah: for my short attention span, I also blame Google. Which reminds me: I like Jell-O!
2. Being able to relate to the student experience is a good thing. After you get through the red tape.
Empathy is a beautiful thing.
The problem is that most of us aren't very good at it. "The way I'm feeling must be the way you're feeling, right?" "Sorry, what were you saying?"
Some teachers have been out of the student game for so long, they can't relate to what a student goes through to get into a course, succeed, and graduate, including all of the administrative and financial challenges that come up along the way.
I had to register for my course online. The form was confusing. There were fields that needed to be filled out, and fields that didn't need to be filled out for no apparent reason.
If my program was going to pay for the course (it was), the Dean needed to sign an additional paper form.
This being my last class, I needed the program chair to confirm that I'd achieved the 200 hours of practicum. Another letter.
So far so good, until one of my credits mysteriously vanished off of my transcript. Now I had to prove that I'd taken the class. Thankfully, I had asked for a course transcript a couple of years ago, and it proved that I'd achieved the missing credit. My mark: A+. The memories: priceless.
Now, I'm taking my last class and when I'm done, I'll automatically graduate, right? Well, no, I found out today that I have to apply to graduate. Where and how do I do that? To be determined.
Hello, empathy, my old friend. I've come to talk with you again...
3. All teachers have the same things in common. But most of us don't know it.
Being a teacher is a very social, yet solitary pursuit. On one hand, you gab and gab and gab all day, on the other, you're rarely hanging out in other instructors' classrooms, and almost never have a chance to compare notes with them.
The good news: when you finally do get together - in a CAE class, for example - you find that you have so much in common, it's downright liberating to take solace in each other's successes and miseries. Mostly miseries, because who doesn't love to complain? I do, I do!
Last summer, I made friends with the good instructors in Radiology - who knew that all the wacky practical jokers and class clowns came from that industry? Think about that during your next brain scan! Then again, don't.
This week, it looks like I may learn a thing or two about being a chartered accountant, electrician, and hairstylist. And, yes, I plan to open a business that incorporates all three. That's all I can say, because I don't want anyone to steal my idea.
4. Memo to myself: I like this job.
Most of all, taking the CAE has reminded me how much I like teaching. Hey, I get paid to hang out with smart people, who like to discuss and debate current events, advertising, books, movies, and culture. Now if only we could do something about "marking assignments," life would be gravy.
Which reminds me: can I have my A+ now?