Posts Tagged ‘him’
I know a man-child. I had never met one before I joined the veteran’s band, but I did as soon as I started showing up to practice. He stood out. He stands out a lot.
He stands up a lot, too, up in front of the whole band. Though he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket if it were welded inside, he’s our lead vocalist.
He isn’t that bad of a singer, I suppose, though his voice warbles out of tune with alarming frequency. He’s American Idol material, if with only this caveat — he’d only be popular in the first half of the season.
At our concerts, he’s introduced as a featured vocal soloist for the Chicago Symphony for “many, many years.” That’s his story he tells. We know that he was in a ridiculously large chorus performing beside the Chicago Symphony for a few performances, and hasn’t been back since. Maybe the director over there got as sick of his one-upmanship and unjustified self-centered diva personality as we should be.
We daren’t kick him out. He has a place here.
At the very least, he qualifies for our veteran’s band, as a former Navy SEAL. We ignore that he was kicked out of the Navy SEALs for getting his Navy SEALs tattoo before he finished training. He tries so hard to do some good, but just when you think he has something between the ears, he goes off and does some fool thing.
Especially on pieces when he’s in the back of the band playing percussion instead of the front singing or narrating, he’ll purposefully say something inane — “I can’t play the cymbal. My music says ‘suspended.’” We”ll look in his general direction to soothe his ego, and we’ll roll our eyes afterward. Our director is the picture of patience. He’s also the picture of subtly wry humor our soloist never picks up on.
He plays every instrument in the band better than the musicians who played professionally, if you believe what he says. You won’t: He can’t quite get a grip even on his bass drum and cymbal.
He is famous for his generosity, and is even more famous for how his generosity is a misguided attempt to purchase our friendship to him. He thinks it’s working because, in spite of it all, we consider him a friend.
He’s a loud, boorish cad, and the band just wouldn’t be the same without him. He’s our loud, boorish cad. That makes all the difference.
Part Four of Four in my series on my two master teachers.
My master teacher consoled a fellow student teacher, and I overheard him:
Never live too close to where you teach, especially when you start out. You sometimes need that drive back home to decompress.
I need the drive home, too. Teaching his classes is regularly frustrating. It’s an uphill battle against some students who never show up. Against some who do, rarely. Against those who are there every day, and immediately enter their 55-minute coma. Against those who are awake, but insist on avoiding work at any cost.
Against some of the rest, who know I’m nothing like my beloved master teacher.
He writes his lessons on the fly, and without much preparation. He knows which copies to make for which week, and he doesn’t usually put together handouts. He believes: Keep It Simple, Stupid; work smarter, not harder.
Students might do a textbook inventory, looking for people, events or vocabluary in the book and placing it in the appropriate spot on a timeline. Students might read from his copies of the TCI curriculum, and do the TCI activities. Students, given their parents’ permission, might watch Schindler’s List as half of the Holocaust unit.
These plans are easy to write, and they’re effective.
I don’t know if his compliments have any perspective: He hasn’t had a student teacher before. He did tell me me that I’m ahead of where he was as a student teacher, at least in terms of knowledge of the material.
Hanging out with the kids was the easy part for me. It was the subject that gave me trouble.
My skills are inverted from him, and so I have a long way to go.
Part Two of Four in my series on my two master teachers.
One master teacher is laid back. The kids love him. He quit last year.
One of our high school’s administrators lives near his house, and was, over time, able to con him into joining this year’s staff. He signed a new contract, in this new district, at the last minute.
Why did he sign? He loves kids. By itself, loving kids couldn’t and wouldn’t sustain him through a year of teaching. It made the difference when he had teetered between signing and not signing the contract offered him.
Back during his first marriage, there was a student. This student had a bad boyfriend, a bad father, a bad uncle. Read between the lines. He offered this student his couch; she took him up on it for months. Even after she moved into a stable apartment, he helped her get back on her feet, get her GED.
My theory: That’s why he signed.
This is his first year teaching at our high school. He had been frustrated from his ten years at his previous school, as a basketball coach, and in his fewer years as an athletic director. He does not coach basketball here, and he isn’t an athletic director.
In the classroom, he is still a basketball coach.
Raw charisma fills his classroom. When he’s there, students won’t notice the bare walls or broken desks or unkempt whiteboards. They notice him.
I knew he would be that sort of teacher as soon as I met him. It was the first week of December. I introduced myself. Firm, confident handshake. Bellowing baritone. His pastiche of adolescent humor.
When I teach fifth period sophomores, I don’t teach my class. I teach his. If he ever removes himself completely from his classroom, I supposed I’ll float around the vacuum he leaves in his place.
He told me once:
Two years ago, I decided that I was done teaching.
He came back.