Saturday, June 09, 2007

Real Work

I've been reading a book called "Teacher Man," by Frank McCourt. He also wrote "Angela's Ashes," and "'Tis." All of these books are memoirs about his life as an Irish immigrant.

I picked the book up because of the title, and it's supposed to be an inspiration to teachers. It's been really funny to read some of his struggles as a high school teacher in Manhattan in the 60s, and to compare them to some of my own experiences.

His professors told him that you should never reveal any personal information about yourself, or tell stories to you students. But what they don't teach you in Teacher School is what to do when students start throwing sandwiches during class (McCourt picked it up and ate it), or what to do with the student who is unruly in class, but you know if you call home he will probably come to school the next day with some bruises.

He describes how students, especially high school students, are experts on teachers. They have been in school for ten years or more, and can read a teacher from the second they walk in the door. They know if you are afraid, confident, scared, and they know who is in control.

And his students would ask him, "Did you ever do real work, not teaching, you know, but real work?"

Real work. If they only knew.

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