If you’re a fan of silly movies, as I am, then I’m sure you’ve seen Adam Sandler’s Happy Gilmore. When Happy is about to go ape-shit and miss a putt, he soothes himself with a mantra his coach taught him: “Go to your happy place.”
Happy’s place consisted of his grandma, pitchers of beer, and Modern Family‘s Claire in a little white get-up. While I certainly don’t have the same ideas in mind (okay, maybe my grandma), I, too, have a happy place. I began building it in 2003…
I was barely 23, a December college grad going on way too many interviews.
Brief case with portfolio–check!
Textbook answers to interview questions memorized–check!
3-piece suit that screamed POWERFUL but also a team player–check!
I made it to the last round of a few interviews, but the superintendent’s sister’s husband’s cousin’s mother’s neighbor’s recent college grad also needed a job and, well, there you have it.
I signed on to teach summer classes at a local high school. The classroom was entirely too small for me and 10-15 teenagers in hot July. The chalkboard on wheels was a piece of crap and by the time I scrawled the notes on it, I was sweating my face off. We only had 5 weeks to cover an entire year’s worth of material–way to set us up for failure! Despite the students’ initial resistance, we began working together like a well oiled machine. They were reading and responding, and having thoughtful conversations. Wasn’t I just in new teacher heaven?! A morning before class, one of them asked if I had interviewed to teach at their high school. I hadn’t realized there was an opening, but jumped on it as quickly as I could. Full disclosure: I gave them the afternoon to write their essays while I updated my resumé. I did, after all, have to add summer school cred to my “Experience” section.
I interviewed like I didn’t give an eff. I didn’t try to fancy it up with my 3-piece suit, nor did I rock the briefcase. Who was I kidding? I looked like a student–a briefcase?! And if I had learned anything from my summer school students it was to be real. And I was. And I made that interview my bitch.
Fast forward a few days: back in my sweat box of a summer school classroom and I am just DYING to tell my students I’ll be going back to school with them in the fall. So I did what any normal sophomore English teacher would do: I forced them to play Hangman with me. They looked at me like I just said we were going to do a few lines in the bathroom, but eventually succumbed to my
The Vikings were their mascot and when they realized what my game revealed, they started clapping. A few of them stood up and continued clapping. I believe this is what Beyoncé and other talented songstresses know as a standing ovation. I myself never had one. Until that day. Of course, I teared up, but too proud to admit it, I played it off as sweat. And then we were back to business because I don’t play games in my classroom. I mean, I do, but…you get it.
That day still goes down as one of my best EVER. And it was significantly less awkward than when I announced I was pregnant and my students applauded me for having unprotected sex.
I have so much love and so many memories for those “kids” (we were, like, the same age!), that I just can’t do them all justice in one post. So this, faithful readers, is my first “To Be Continued” piece.