the words we live for

13 12 2010

sometimes it’s something as simple as a little note in the submission box for the final paper from the guy who sat in the front row (when he was there) with an array of snacks spread out around him and an attentive face:

“Great Class. Thanks, S”

sometimes it’s a more involved, more formal note instead, from a serious and politically conservative young man:

“Dear Professor Twomey,

I have included my final copy of formal paper 4 in this message. I would also like to thank you for making our composition class interesting and taking the time to make sure we were all acquainted the first day of class. For a while I disliked going to class because we actually had to do work but I finally realized the other day that I am going to miss this class the most.
P.S. I am still waiting for my peppermint cookie recipe.
Sincerely,
J”

sometimes it’s a handwritten note tucked into the back of a first-semester freshman woman’s submitted portfolio:

“Ms. Twomey,
It has been a pleasure being a student in your class. Personally, I believe you are an amazing teacher and person. For the first time I have actually benefited and learned from an English class….Thank you for all you have done for me.
Sincerely,
A ♥ ” (& the heart was included)

sometimes it’s even a livejournal comment (logged in november on my august post “5,” in reference to a comment i made about students who’d failed earlier attempts at my class signing up for me again even though they had other options) from a junior repeating freshman English:

“Some of us are returning because we approve of your teaching style in a word filled with easy As or boring lectures (or both). In this case we get to both work for the grade and get an entertaining lecture.

(By ‘we’ I mean ‘me and the alter egos I like to keep quiet about, in case the men with the white coats come’. But the men in white coats may come to take me away when they hear I enjoy the classwork anyway.)”

& sometimes it’s a young man who hasn’t always been known, in his life so far, for being school-smart walking out of the room on the last day, seeing me in the hall (grading between sections–i had to leave the room so they could fill out course evaluations), hollering down the hall “best English class EVER!” and throwing his arms out on approach to hug me goodbye.

in all of their forms, these magic words spell out the same term for me: vocation.

sure, tenure would be nice, a guaranteed contract year after year, an office all my own to grade in, a salary that might buy us a little house and yard to plant a garden in, but this is worth living in apartments on adjunct pay and semester-ly uncertainty. hell, i’d do this if i had to live in a monk’s cell and grade by candlelight, and i don’t think i’m the only one. we teacher-types…we more than do a thing. we are a thing, and these are the kinds of words that keep us growing.

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One response

17 12 2010
metalmonkey

I don’t give grades, or have any effect on them beyond affirming so-and-so was in the shop or not, but occasionally students have come up to me and said they wrote about me in their paper (on the hours they had to serve in the shop) and about how much they learned (and one or two even admitted to having fun).
I could get used to that.

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