Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: You know, I figured myself out MUCH earlier than that...

11.04.2011

You know, I figured myself out MUCH earlier than that...

While I was in college and training to become a high school language arts teacher, I was paired up with a master teacher who specialized in a niche of education that I was going go deal with being in metropolitan Los Angeles: English language-learners. This teacher, unfortunately, was frustrated with my departure from traditional direct teaching and drills and my emphasis on real-world relevancy in lessons. As I found this to work well with the students I was assigned to, she found it to be a time waster and ineffective and made sure I knew about it. I think it was because the kids were lively and practicing their speech actively (It was a language course, wasn't it?). After a few weeks, it became obvious that she wanted me out.

I think I broke the straw on the camel's back when I made a reference during an open discussion about movies (the first X-Men movie had come out at the time) that the actor who played Wolverine, Hugh Jackman, was a very talented Broadway singer in a show called "The Boy From Oz" and did more than rip people in half with claws on screen. That "wastage of time" made her livid, and I got an earful at the parent-teacher conferences later that week.

From her verbal tirade, I took home a very shiny gem of wisdom: 

"I don't think you should start teaching until you're 26 because you don't know what to do with yourself. I can't even leave you alone with my students."

She then continued to complain about near everything she observed me doing during class, all the way down to my leather boots and the casual jacket I wore when it was just a little too cold in the room. In that one instant, she no longer was my peer in the teaching profession. I understand there's a difference between criticism and complaining, but I was pretty much just getting yelled at. I couldn't keep my composure for very long and pretty much sat there and took the abuse with tears streaming down my face, hoping she'd eventually finish.

For several years after that verbal exchange, I would get a chill down my spine whenever I would see the soundtrack to "The Boy From Oz" in the store or any reference to the musical. It was amazing how long that incident scarred me far beyond the scope of my teaching profession. Although they were words, they were words that were delivered so harshly that I honestly thought there was actually something wrong with me. And in response to it, became one of my personal missions to never berate or verbally bully a student to the point of mental submission.

Why do I write about this now? I am nearing the end of my age of 26 years, the same age that my so-called "teacher" told me was the magic number when I would be ready to "settle down and be a proper adult." Since that incident happened I managed to, professionally, have a three-year run as a teacher in an inner-city school with many wonderful memories and adventures in the classroom. I've completely changed careers, finding a passion in the motorcycle industry and spending much of my spare time around two-wheeled transportation with a smile on my face. I'm happily married to someone that is supportive of my endeavors and shares many of the same interests that I do. If I waited until now to even enter a classroom, I would've wasted my later 20s in the same miserable situation as the obviously bitter person that had screamed at me back in 2006. In that sense, I have triumphed and gone above that negativity long before I ever got trapped in it. I think I've finally convinced myself that this mental struggle is really over...

By the way, I started listening to that CD again today. That Hugh Jackman sure does sound pretty good right now!