Monday, September 10, 2007

Teaching through Trauma.

(My post title today is shamelessly stolen from Leanne Franson's excellent Liliane book, which you should all run out and purchase immediately.)

So let me tell you all about my first class tonight.

My babysitter cancelled (sick), my back-up babysitter was unavailable, and Mr. Plain(s)feminist was out of town, so I brought with me to class tonight a very special teaching assistant: Bean. While I'm attempting humor in calling him my "teaching assistant," he did in fact really assist my teaching, because part of the subject matter tonight was the issue of working women balancing career and family. As illustrative as he is, this is really the first time that I've had him with me for an entire class, and it was only made possible tonight because I was mostly showing film clips and because, being the first class, I knew it would end a bit early.

In preparation for class, I had a few very serious talks with Bean:

"Now, you know that you are coming to Mommy's class tonight, right? And Mommy needs you to be a cooperator? And you have to be very quiet and watch your DVDs? And you can't talk to Mommy while she's teaching?"

To which Bean's response was:

"Will I sit at a desk with the other students? What kind of chairs are there? I can't wait to see the chairs. Can I bring [my six stuffed animals] with me? Can they come to school if they stay in the car?"

I was understandably apprehensive.

I hit the video store to load up on appropriate DVDs. (Why does Blockbuster not have Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends on DVD?) The lack of Foster's caused Bean to have a mild breakdown, which did nothing to ease my apprehension, until I convinced him that Jimmy Neutron would be pretty good, too. And I managed to get him into the car with numerous stuffed animals, DVDs, portable DVD player, and all of my own stuff for class, via the promise of a Happy Meal.

We made it to campus with time to spare, but I had neglected to figure in the travel time from the parking lot to my office. When I walk it, it takes maybe 5 minutes to get from the car to my door. With a five-year-old, it takes longer. WIth a five-year-old carrying numerous stuffed animals, and with my own arms full, it took quite a bit longer. With only fifteen minutes until class, I arrived at my office, sorted through my materials, and got everything ready for class. I brought Bean to the bathroom, hoping to avoid having to take him during class. And, suddenly - I had to GO. And about two minutes after that, I suddenly had to GO AGAIN. Yes - one minute before class time found me heading back down the hallway to the bathroom, with Bean following me, loudly saying, "you have to go potty AGAIN, even though you just went?!" And class time found me searching for my classroom - because I'd used up my classroom-finding-time in the bathroom - and thinking I'd have to cancel the class altogether, because I couldn't trust my bowels not to erupt again.

The whole thing felt like the kind of nightmare one usually has the night before classes start - PLUS I had a five-year-old along for the ride.

I got there, I got Bean set up with his DVD, I made my excuses, and then, miraculously, I felt better. Made it through the first hour without incident, and then Bean broke his headphones. Luckily, there were no other classes on the hall, and there was a glass, full-length panel next to the door. I plopped him down in the hallway outside the door with the DVD player and positioned myself near the door, where I could see him, and kept on teaching.

(I'm glad no well-meaning person happened along to report an apparently unsupervised child. It did occur to me to worry about this, though of course, he was never unsupervised.)

Bean behaved wonderfully, by the way. And the class was awesome. But I am very, very glad that this happened to me as a seasoned teacher and not as a brand-new one.


Stuff Daddy said...

Funny and traumatic. Hooray for Bean and Hooray for you Plain! I remember being a little older than Bean when I was taken to class by Grandpa Stuff Daddy. I loved the whole idea of seeing a giant grown-up version of my classroom and I loved seeing my father teaching big kids. When you're a kid, there is something magical about being in a school at night. It seems wrong, but it seems exciting too!

Green said...

When I was a little girl, my mom was going to school for her Master's and my dad traveled for work quite a bit. As a five year old, I attended some Abnormal Psych classes that were pretty fun. Thanks for reminding me. Glad it went well for you after you settled in!