There used to be a time when I could say without lying “I do not have 3 magic markers and a rubber duck in my bag.” That time has passed because teaching is weird, and I might be too. Over the Summer, I taught a small group and had a pack of feral high school students, but it wasn’t the same as my job during the actual academic year. I often had to share the class and teaching time with another person, and the students never completely felt like mine. The community of the classroom wasn’t one I had built; class time bounced between casual and chaotic, and not once did I feel like the authoritarian overlord that I’ve come to think of myself as. It was rough-going not being the absolute commander of my pack of tiny humans. But now things are returning to their proper order, and I’m returning to my throne at the head of the class, and I’ve missed it so much.
Some of the things I’ve missed about teaching seem strange even to me. Making powerpoints, arguably one of the most mundane acts any person can have inflicted upon them, is something I actually longed for. I missed the time I’d devote to finding weird picture for slides and making writing-based puns for me to laugh at while my kids endanger the integrity of their eyes by rolling them every few seconds. I missed putting odd writing prompts up that have a secret agenda behind them because I like gathering data on my students because, as I’ve mentioned, I am their benevolent overlord and I must know everything about them.
I miss grading–kind of. I don’t miss the actual act of reading through dozens of papers and making carefully crafted comments in a tone that is somewhere between stern parent and helpful nerd. You can ask any plumber within 2 miles of a Taco Bell, being needed is a really good feeling, and when I poured my time and effort into suggesting ways to make my students’ writing better, I felt exactly like a plumber plunging the waste from the foul pipes of student minds. There are a thousand ways to say it, but at its core, I was proud of slashing my way through pages of shit and giving a chance for a glimmer of something good to show through. And my handwriting was getting really good too. I could curl the tail of a ‘y’ with the grace and style of a master calligrapher. I was an artist, and comments were my craft.
Most of all, I think I miss having hostages. I haven’t felt anything akin to being able to demand the attention of a crowd both because I want it and because they’re paying a lot of money to sit in a room with me. I had a captive audience shelling out major money to hear about writing, the thing I love most in the world. And also they couldn’t leave when I made jokes because I held their grade in the soft palm of my hand like a gorilla holding the last egg of an endangered species. It was fun having my little pack of people. They’re fun to work with even when they’re awful to be around, and now I get to do it again, and I’m going to tell even worse jokes because I know I can get away with it.