Sunday, November 19, 2023

A Little Real

 I used to get more bent out of shape when I heard someone declare that I wasn't "a real teacher." Never mind that I put in every bit as much time supervising, herding and entertaining children as my colleagues. Never mind that I earned a teaching credential and have maintained one from the State of California for lo these many years. Never mind that on any given day, if there were multiple absences and no substitutes available, I would step in and take on a class for a day or two. And let's not forget about the five years I taught my own fourth grade class. Just like a "real teacher."

Keeping in mind that stint in fourth grade game me some appreciation for how this squishy distinction could be made. "Mister Caven's Class" is currently more a room than a group of children. When I introduce myself as a teacher, the inevitable return is "Oh? Which grade?"

To which I reply, "All of them."

Which means to some degree I play the role of divorced dad. I show up a couple times a week, take the kids out for some exercise or an hour in the computer lab, and then I bring them back to their "real teacher." The prevalent feeling among many of my colleagues over the years is that I then disappear for another week or handful of days, only to return at the appointed hour to scoop up their little darlings so they can crawl under their desks and breathe deep into a paper bag until I bring them back again. 

We call this "prep time."

Over the past decade, I have relaxed more into the role I truly play: utility infielder. "Mister Caven, can you take a look at the copy machine when you get a minute?" 

"Mister Caven, can you take Andy for a few minutes? Just until he cools down and writes a letter of apology."

"Mister Caven, can you look after my kids while I go to the bathroom/move my car out of the no parking zone/have a good cry?"

And if it sounds like I am complaining, I apologize. I have lucked into a very important position at my school. And though I may not appear real to everyone, the services I provide are. And somewhere in the course of a day, I try to teach. A little.

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