I’m teaching what?

Here’s a comic and story from one of my own experiences from teaching. It’s amazing how things can change for a educator with little warning or notice. Check out the comic and story below.

It was the first day of school, summer was officially over and my career as an educator was about to kick off. Though I had yet to encounter any students (they did not start school until two days later) I could already feel the butterflies fluttering about in my abdomen. What will my students be like? Will I be able to manage the classroom? Will I be able to manage the responsibilities of teaching? Will I be able to manage my life? I sat and pondered, looking at my half-eaten donut that was so graciously supplied for breakfast the administration. There’s nothing like loads of empty calories and a big fat chunk of saturated fat sitting in your gut to start your year off on the right foot. I poked at it, thinking about how many days it would take for my stomach to digest the half of it I already consumed, wondering if I should live life on the edge and take another bite. Suddenly my profound thoughts were interrupted.
“Hey, there you are. I have your chemistry books.”
Boom! A large stack of textbooks with a lime green cover and the words Chemistry printed across the spine were plopped on the table in front of me, nearly crushing my prized breakfast. I looked up and beyond the stack stood one of my science teacher colleagues. They must have noticed the puzzled look on my face. “Um, I was told to give you these books, I guess you’re teaching chemistry?” she said to no one in particular, just letting the inquiry rise into the atmosphere, as if her experience had already told her there was no logical answer to be found.
“Wait, what?” I stammered. “I’m suppose to be teaching physics, at least that’s what I thought…”
“Welcome to the public school system!” she interrupted, and then walked away, supposing that was all the information I needed to reconcile the injustice that was being done to me. Of course, being a newbie to the system, such a response was indeed not enough, and I sought answers from my administrator. It turned out there was a unforeseen need for another section of chemistry, and I was the lucky candidate chosen to take on that class in addition to my sections of physics. (How it was unforeseen until the very start of school still is a mystery, but as experience has proven, this unfortunately not a rarity, and it is typical for schools to be in such states of flux up to and even into the start of the school year) I expressed my concerns in having little (okay, more accurately, none at all) notice and time to prepare for teaching this course, but such worries were dismissed as per folly, as it was noted that I was a science teacher and that all science was basically the same thing. Not wanting to debate one’s dogma on such matters (no matter how inaccurate it may be) nor rock the boat being the newest crewmember welcomed aboard, I accepted my fate and frantically began to refresh my chemistry knowledge that evening to prepare myself for teaching the course.
I wish I could say that such an experience was a rarity, but as my years in teaching have proved, such surprises will pop up throughout one’s career. I have learned an important lesson from such that I believe all whom desire to venture forth into the field of education should heed. When embarking upon a teaching career, one must be ready to accept that rapid and unexpected change are all part of the job. In order to survive this profession, educators must be able to adapt with little or no warning or preparation.
This fact is why I have put together this book. I have spent over a decade in the field of education, and the last few years I have been making fun of all the craziness that surrounds this profession through my teaching and education comics at 180Dayz.com. Though my cartoons provide a brief moment of entertainment, many have found them to be a sort of much needed medicine, giving a much needed dose of humor to help alleviate the stress that comes along with the teaching profession. It has always been my hope that my work would help sustain educators to teach another day, as well as to inform the public as to what the lives of teachers are really like and just how various public policies affect us, our schools, and our students and their families. Now I am launching forth a new project with the belief that together, with the combined experience and knowledge of many brave educators whom don’t mind sharing the errors they made when they first started, an even greater impact can be made. This book contains true stories (with names changed to protect the innocent, and the not so innocent too!) of teachers first year experiences; their mistakes, what they learned, and perhaps what a new educator entering the field (or even a seasoned veteran) can learn from it. Through the use of real stories combined with my cartoon interpretations of them, this book is purposed as a resource that is not only visually appealing and entertaining, but profound in the insight it provides. Upon first reading some may find some of the stories to be down right unbelievable, but as any experienced teachers understand (and you soon will too), anything can happen in education! So find yourself a cozy spot to sit and delve into the world of teaching, trust me in that you will find it to be full of experiences you won’t forget (Even though some of us wish we could!).

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