You’re an English teacher? #SOL19 20/31

I had a doctor’s appointment this morning before work (for my poor achy shoulder). As I left, I stopped at the desk to set up a follow-up. I didn’t recognize the receptionist, so I made my standard request to try to get a time before or after my classes – “anything first thing in the morning on an odd-numbered day? Or after 4:00 any day at all?” She looked quizzical, and I added, “I’m a teacher.”

“Oh,” she said, “What do you teach?”

“High school.” I’ve learned to be vague. My best bet is to feel out the person in front of me because not everyone has fond memories of high school English. Last week the woman at the salon told me several sad high school stories as she washed my hair. English class featured prominently. She had not read many books in high school and actually brightened a little when I told her that magazines count as reading. Poor thing. So this morning I brace for the (polite) worst.

“What subject?”

I smile and ‘fess up, hoping that she won’t tell me how awful it was. I can tell the conversation isn’t over.

“Which Shakespeare play are you teaching?”

Wait – what? That’s not what I was expecting. She has leaned forward a little and is looking at me quite intently. I’m still in my “I swear I’m not an ogre” mode.

“Um, well, I work with at-risk readers, so we don’t always do Shakespeare…” My voice trails off; she actually looks a little disappointed, so I add, “But if we do one, grade 10 is Romeo and Juliet.”

“Oh! That’s a great one! I really loved it. But my favorite is Merchant of Venice. My teacher just did a great job with that one and we got so into it!” She is nearly starry-eyed, clearly remembering some class, some moment of understanding, some passionate discussion. She pauses then adds, “I just love Shakespeare.” She glances at her colleague and gives her an almost apologetic smile, then she looks back at me.

“Me, too,” I say. Me, too.

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25 thoughts on “You’re an English teacher? #SOL19 20/31

  1. I like Margaret’s comment; I’d teach that class! I taught English too. Lots of time I get the “I’ll have to watch my grammar,” line. I reply, “Don’t worry. I don’t correct anyone’s grammar unless I’m getting paid for it.”

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  2. Thankfully, the response I usually get is, “I had the best English teacher in high school.” I’m always happy to hear that. That is why I became a teacher. I was inspired by my high school English teachers.

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  3. I enjoy hearing positive things about teachers.

    About misperceptions — When I was teaching middle school, my favorite level, some people asked me when I’d move up to high school. It felt like they thought the smarter, more competent people taught the older grades. There is no correlation in my mind; intelligent, skilled teachers appear at every level, of course.

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  4. I know those conversations. Love that you encountered this receptionist and had this bonding over Shakespeare moment. BTW, I recently learned about Manga editions of some Bard plays. They use original language and look amazing.

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  5. Nice! It’s nice to run into someone who appreciates the the work we do. I had to stop going to a certain hair stylist because she would spend the whole time telling me how she didn’t want to put her children in school because “teachers do this” and “they do that”. It annoyed me so much!

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  6. I can relate to those conversations too! I am glad that you heard a positive response this time. Why does English seem to be the class that kids seem to either love or hate?

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  7. I love Margaret’s comment! Also, for me and for all my daughters, there are huge differences in what they would say about different classes in high school. Some better than others, for sure. I loved the way you wove in a little back story into the narrative, Amanda. The hairdresser and magazines was perfect!

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  8. Your slice reminds me of an exchange I had this week with the person who cut my hair. The talk unexpectedly skewed to views about technology’s place in schools, rather than Shakespeare’s! p.s. I especially liked your ending here, how the inside voice echoes the outside one.

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  9. That’s funny, I always thought most students enjoyed English, I used to teach French and Spanish to high school students for a while and if there’s one thing worse than English, it’s learning in ANOTHER language! Here in India almost everyone is studying in English (not their own language) and I do think Shakespeare is a bit of a stretch, but they still have to study him!

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  10. The part that got me in this was: “anything first thing in the morning on an odd-numbered day? Or after 4:00 any day at all?” Sigh. Hand raised. Feel ya. On another note, I LOVED my English teacher, Mr. Ardary. Just the best. For the record, “Hamlet” was my fav.

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  11. This did NOT go where I was expecting it to go! My son just had to do Macbeth (10th grade). How I hated it. Though it’s REALLY short! I like the Henrys best, and Twelfth Night, and The Tempest. And no one has ever talked about Shakespeare when I’ve said I’m an English teacher!

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  12. I get some weird responses to “I’m an English teacher”. They usually range from ‘oh, so you’re a backpacker then?’ Or ‘wow you get so many holidays’! At least you had a lovely connection over it this time☺️

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