Tag Archives: teaching

Kickstarter

In an attempt to raise enough money to rent space for my writing workshops, maybe advertise them a little, and print up a small booklet of some of the resulting writing, I’ve signed up to try and start a project on Kickstarter.com. No idea how it will work or if it will work, but I really miss teaching and I don’t have the money it will take to schedule the workshops. I’ve got the money I made from selling hats at the Windows Market, but less taxes and charity and existing expenses, there’s not enough for the workshops.

So maybe this Kickstarter thing will work. I figure nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

Oh, and also … I’m giving my Freedom manuscript one more thorough onceover, and after the first of the year I plan to start sending it out. Feel free to send me any good wishes you have lying around unused.

 

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Kind words live a long time

When my husband says to me, “I’m proud of you for how hard you fight,” meaning the ongoing battle against manic-depression, that makes me feel about two feet taller and twice as strong. When he says, “I’m glad you’re so good at keeping the house clean enough,” that makes me happy, too. I know I’m not a great housekeeper, so “clean enough” is high praise.

When my daughter says to me, “All my friends think you’re really cool,” well… who wouldn’t be flattered? Seriously. When she thanks me, in her way, for giving her four years of extra attention and all the education I could manage to squeeze into a homeschooling setting, that makes life worth living.

But I was challenged to think of the best compliment I ever received, and after some pondering, I think it has to come down to two.

In college, I minored in Speech and Theater. I loved everything about it, from solo performances to big plays to painting sets to doing makeup to competing in Forensics Tournaments. I had a bit of a crush on one teacher. Heck, I think every female in the department had a crush on him, and maybe some of the (deeply closeted at Bible college) males. He was tough and demanding, but he wasn’t afraid to give some praise if needed.

During my last semester, I didn’t have any classes with him or contact with him at all. I’d changed from glasses to contacts, done a mind-blowing student teaching job, and among a lot of other things, took part in a production staged by a graduating friend. In the line after the show, which was a one-shot thing, this teacher came up to me, looked at me as if he’d never seen me before, and said, “You were wonderful. And you look lovely.”

Well. Well well well. That was unexpected, and I walked on air for several days after that. All the way through graduation, in fact.

But cool as it was, that’s not my favorite compliment.

For just under ten years, I taught college. I taught journalism and writing and mass media history, among other things. It was early on during that part of my career that I received my best compliment ever. A student lingered after class and said to me, “Y’know, I never thought about it that way before.”

Can a teacher receive a better compliment?

What are we there for, as teachers, if not to help our students see things in ways they’ve never seen them before? Whether an equation, a diagrammed sentence, a previously despised book, a lab experiment or a different slant on some segment of history, teachers make it clear. They make it understood. A good teacher opens doors in minds, not so she can fill them with her own opinions, but so they have room to consider a larger portion of the immense world.

“I never thought about it that way before.” The best compliment ever. I’m honored to have gotten it more than once.

Truth is, I miss it something fierce. Teaching, I mean. Next time around, I’d like to be a teacher again, letting fresh air into sometimes sludgy minds.

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Gainful Employment ‘R Us

Today’s challenge is to remember my first job, including how much I was paid. That’s a tougher question than you might think.

Was my first job when I used to iron clothes for people, mostly extended family members? If so, then I was paid between a dime and a quarter per piece, depending on size and difficulty.

Or was my first job when I went to graduate school on a teaching assistantship? Mostly I got to take classes for free, but I was paid some small pittance. I honestly can’t remember how much it was, but I remember than mac and cheese was four boxes for a dollar back then. I ate a LOT of mac and cheese in grad school.

I guess you could call selling Avon right after I finished grad school my first job, but to be honest, I was possibly the worst Avon salesperson in the history of the company. I sold plenty of Avon – don’t get me wrong. I had very good sales. Problem was, I felt bad for my customers, who were pretty much all as poor as me, so I sold it all at cost. Yep, I sold a fair amount of goods and didn’t make a penny. I suppose I should have known at that point that I was never going to be a successful capitalist.

After that, I worked the evening shift at a quickie mart for a while. Don’t remember how much I got paid there, either, although I suspect it wasn’t much. I had fun, though. You learn interesting things about your town when you’re working the night shift at (the then) only quikmart open all night.

I worked for a local school system for two years, one as a support staff person who tried to teach teachers how to incorporate new-fangled videos into their teaching. The other year was as a teacher of remedial reading to ninth-graders who had somehow gotten that far in school and never learned to read functionally. That was an educational year for me. I learned that although I love teaching, I don’t love all teaching equally. I came to understand that when I went home trembling at the end of the day and found myself actually hoping some of my students might get hurt or arrested so they wouldn’t come back to class, I was probably in the wrong place. Yep.

So then I got into the newspaper biz, by stumbling head-first into an ads sales job that I was in no way qualified for, and the rest, as they say, is history.

As for how much I was paid… Let’s call the newspaper job my first real job. As I recall, I was paid something like $150 week, more or less. That might be a little high. I was renting a small house from my great-aunt for $100/month, and rent, car upkeep, utilities, and food kept me pretty much living from check to check. Sometimes even falling behind.

Different time. Different me. The world was less complicated then, it seems in memory. But it was rich, and I was happy. What more can a person ask?

 

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