Photo: Some of our lettuce flowered and went to seed last year. We clearly didn’t notice! Well, to our wonderful surprise, we have a bed full of little lettuce volunteers in one of our garden beds! Spring mix is my preferred salad to buy at the grocery store. I can’t wait to serve some of this to my mom when she gets here this weekend!
Ya’ll might recall that I taught my first class in 7 1/2 years last Wednesday night. With the exception of a brief mini-lecture I did for a job interview when I was pregnant with Minor, I have done no teaching at all since leaving the job back when Major was born. As hard as I pursued the opportunity to teach this class, I had a real moment of panic before getting dressed and heading out the door.
I did everything right. I made dinner, I ate some of it (and felt sick with nerves and because I was rushing), The Husband came home early so I could get there on time. Believe it or not, I’d actually bought an outfit for the occasion. In classic form, I’d worn that outfit for church the previous Sunday, so it was in the hamper when I went to put it on. Lord! In a panic, I put on an outfit that was way too hot (like warm, not sexy) and had to put on my cute boots (adorable, but not great for teaching in).
Half of my class beat me to the room that night. I walked in to find two women staring at their phones, notebooks on their desks, everything fairly quiet. They greeted me with warm smiles. I couldn’t stop talking while I set up, feeling compelled to fill the space. I went to the white board to start writing stuff and found that the only thing I was given was a red marker. I ventured into the hallway in hopes of an empty classroom I could raid, but all the rooms were locked.
So there I was: hot, red marker in hand, feet hurting, hella nervous. My humble class of four students gathered in the front row of this sizable classroom. The thing that I love most about teaching is that it doesn’t go according to plan. Ever. You can’t walk in without a plan, but you’d better have enough flexibility in your spirit to let the class flow the way it’s going to flow. There are two things that can really kill a class: rigidity and lack of material. If you’re good, you get the balance just right: enough material to fill the time comfortably, but with enough breathing room that no one feels hurried. A class, like a bottle of good wine, needs a little time to breathe.
Breathe. Lordy. Breathe.
I’ve spent my last few days feeling so grateful for these four women who were patient with me as I shook off the rust and found my way. Because I didn’t know how things were going to go, I didn’t plan enough material for that first night. As my colleagues and I used to say in the old days, my class wasn’t tight enough. There were too many lulls, too many moments of hesitation. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to go about it all differently this Wednesday. Same warmth, more stuff to cover, more opportunities for students to practice in real time.
I think what I’ve been reflecting on most from Wednesday is what I brought with me when I walked back into the classroom. When I was younger and my students were teenagers, I could get away with being fearless. My presence has to be different this time around. I have to be confident and bold, expert enough to be standing at the front of the room… but not the boss. It’s a new balance, one that I’ll have to grow into.
Last week, we talked about how discipline makes writers. This week, we’ll talk about the Muse and how to come up with great ideas even when it feels impossible. We’re also going to discuss how to “unstuck” yourself. That’s a hard thing to do. Writer’s Block is real, ya’ll. I went to the office supply store today and bought a bunch of dry erase markers. I also got myself a notebook just for class (aaahhh… new notebooks are the best!). Tomorrow, I’m making copies. It’s good to be a teacher again.
It’s Monday and it’s late and I’m tired. I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot already, which is good, but there is so much more to do. And there is that sermon on Sunday, ya’ll. I’ve been tweaking and practicing. Last run-through was 12 minutes, 20 seconds. I want to try to shave off as least a minute, but I don’t know how I’m going to make that happen. I am going to have to choose to stop messing with it soon or I’m going to psych myself out. I think I can give myself a couple more days before that happens.
I’m breathing, Dear Reader. How are you doing? We can conquer this week if we put our minds to it. I’m here working hard. I hope you are, too. Let’s make it to Friday feeling like we got something done.
Until Wednesday, take care.