The above quote is from my co-worker/new friend Fahmara about how she thinks that your history, your identities, everything you’ve experienced, doesn’t really matter, that in the end, how you interact with other people, how you share yourself with the world, is what really defines you, that if you’re a dick, well, then you’re just a dick.
Welcome back, I suppose. Where to begin?
The past two weeks have begun my full-time teaching role at my job, whereas Week 1 mainly consisted of me teaching a class or two a day. It’s been a roller coaster and there has been a huge learning curve. My mood, rate of success, and feelings towards teaching vary from day-to-day and, pretty literally, from period-to-period. Overall, I love it, I’d say about 20% of the time I’m over it, but that feeling never lasts long and never outweighs the fact that I do enjoy my job.
If you’re curious as to what I’m like as teacher, a good way to summarize it is:
- 5% of the time, I knock it out of the park and am incredibly effective in my teaching
- another 5% of the time, I’m not really hitting the marks I want/need to
- the rest, that other 90%, is a mixture of all the misses and hits I make when I’m teaching in that 60 minute period, that not bad, not fantastic either spectrum
I could be being a little modest here, but I’m also not ragging on myself in the slightest. I would not consider myself a bad teacher, there is definitely a large portion of new teachers who I am way better than, but as far as vetted, seasoned teachers go, I am just not in their league.
I’m currently functioning slightly above where I’m expected to, which makes sense because I have always been a B student. Every day I get better and better, skewing those percents more towards that top 5 percentile. I fear for anyone who crosses paths with me in this profession a few years down the line; she will be a force to be reckoned with.
I think one of my strongest abilities as a teacher is my personality. I have this belief that who you are as a person bleeds through when you teach: Are you nice? Are you patient? Funny? Able to adapt? What does it take for you to get mad? All of these questions are exhibited and answered in my teaching (Answers: yes; yes; Yes; definitely; I don’t get angry, I just get annoyed).
Adaptability is key though, that’s all teaching/instruction really is: being able to adapt to circumstances i.e. Are students making connections? Are they bored? How do I make this one student rein it the hell in?
I’m finding it hard to find the words that fully encompass my experience teaching, but bottom line, it fluctuates between success, failure, fulfillment, and aggravation.
the view when I roll up to school at 7:30am and what I look at for the next 10 hours
On a whim, I downloaded a podcast for my morning commute called Bad with Money, in which the host discusses how she has no idea how money works or what a smart fiscal decision is. What’s interesting about her podcast is that she has conversations about all the social connotations that money is surrounded by. I’m good with money, so I was surprised when listening to this half-hour podcast, on a bus, got me Thinking About My Life.
One of her guests talked about the idea of “money scripts,” in which people have adages that they live by and how they spend money is a result of it, i.e. “you can’t take money with you when you pass” results in someone recklessly spending and not saving or “don’t trust banks” stemming from a family that was affected by the Great Depression.
The guest said that more often than not, when a parent exhibits a negative behavior, their child will either fall in line with that behavior, or do the exact opposite, as a response. I had my Oprah Aha!™ moment and realized that a lot of who I am is a response to preventing addictive behavior; I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs, I don’t spend money carelessly because I don’t see accidentally falling into negative habits as appealing or what I want for myself.
I’m not saying I’m some perceptive saint who know how to make all the right decisions (like please see the men I have been involved with), but it’s always re-affirming when someone says something that connects and confirms something you may have always felt.
On a lighter, bus-related note, here’s something I drafted up on Wednesday:
[CARRIE BRADSHAW VOICE OVER]
As I flossed my teeth on the bus, with my banana peel filling the spot next to me, I couldn’t help but wonder, isn’t it strange that I’m in England? Is this stint abroad just a banana peel filling some spot in my life? Aren’t we all just plaque being flung out of life’s mouth by some exterior force? When it comes to life, drive, and teeth… how do we determine what’s worth biting?
As far as social pursuits go, I guess we can begin with she who unintentionally gave me the title for this blog, Fahmara. To begin, that is not her real name, because she is my co-worker, I feel leaving her name out of anything associated here is a safe bet. She is warm, funny, and very perceptive. Our friendship grew out of her being impressed with my affinity for learning people’s names so quickly, but of course, my star personality is what sealed the deal.
She is also a mother of three, you couldn’t guess it by looking at her, so she naturally took the literally youngest member of staff under her wing. The past two Fridays, Fahmara, our other friend, Badia, and I have gone to a local pub to unwind. It’s nice to just talk smack with some fabulous women while we occasionally cruise men and as I eat chips (french fries).
As for Badia, by appearance, you’d think she’s that cool girl in high school who smokes cigarettes and plays by her own rules, but she’s actually very friendly and funny as well as inherently cool and aloof. Together we make for an interesting little trio and I’m having fun with it. They told me they enjoy my American accent and sometimes repeat things I say, like the word “totally,” or as they said, “toe-tal-ly.”
Speaking of pronunciation, I didn’t realize until this week that some of my students think my last name is pronounced “Yansen”? I at first thought it was a joke by one student, after they asked me how to pronounce it, but two days ago, a student referred to me as Mr. Yansen in all seriousness. The students usually call me “Sir,” which I’ve actually grown to like because, the way some of them say it, it feels like they’re referring to me as some British caretaker, like a gay male Mary Poppins.
In other social developments: I went to London.
St. Pancras International & St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel
I’ve only been to London one time prior to this, but it was after a week of interviews and lesson planning and I was too exhausted to really enjoy it; this time around was a lot more enjoyable.
On Saturday, I met up with a friend from college, who’s studying abroad in England, in London and we traipsed around for a few hours. We got sushi, went to the British Library, which is a massive, gorgeous, museum-esque library, and hit up a comic shop. It was nice, again, to just escape work from a few hours and it was also a little cathartic to be with an aspect of home. The past two weeks I have been feeling ounces of homesickness, nothing major, but a longing for something familiar.
That first week was all go and no pause, but now that I’ve officially been here three weeks, the gravity of coming here is sinking in. There are moments where I think, “I can’t believe I’m in England right now.” It’s not a negative feeling, but pretty wild to think about, regardless, major props to my brazen ass for crossing the pond to start my career.
When I came to Luton, I came with an open mentality that I had no idea how long I will remain here and was willing to go whichever way the wind takes me, but after three weeks, I already know that America is my home and I will one day have to come back. But again, who knows what the hell will happen in the next few years? I’m just happy that I gave myself this opportunity to explore and see what can happen.
In the span of three weeks, I’ve learned more about myself than I probably have in the past few months. In the conversation I had with Fahmara that warranted the title quote of this blog post, I told her that I want to continue to be someone who doesn’t let a bad moment impact how they act the rest of the day or how they interact with someone else. I am someone who wants to keep trying again, someone who likes to laugh at stupid things, someone who constantly blares mediocre Broadway and passionately sings Jewel in the shower.
I want to continue to be fulfilled and happy and I don’t think that’s unreasonable to want?
That’s all I really got, so I guess we can go out on some of the quotes I’ve been stockpiling from the past two weeks:
“You’re someone who doesn’t have time for fools.”
—my co-worker after he was analyzing/reading me to filth
“What is the cheapest watch you have?”
—me, to a store clerk, immediately after entering a watch store
“You’re a good teacher; you have a very confident manner.”
—my incredibly sweet/kind co-worker after she TA-ed for me on Friday
“Sorry, I was starting to feel like Ariel in The Little Mermaid.”
—me, to my students, after clearing my throat loudly
Until next time,