Sunday, December 27, 2009

i'm currently playing with my new netbook- endless possibilities in terms of taking anecdotal records and using the computer throughout the day at school. so excited... but currently bare with me as i adjust to typing on the smaller keyboard...

Since we were headed to the ATL for Christmas I decided to treat myself to a new book on my kindle app on my itouch. (I adore, adore the kindle app for the itouch. I love that it allows me to read under the covers in the middle of the night when I am suppose to be asleep, it means that at any given time I am carrying a large library with me, that whenever I get the urge to read a particular book I can access it in less than a minute, and that I always have a book to read should I have to wait in a long, boring line. The one downside of course, is having to turn it off for take offs and landings. Sadly, flight attendants look remarkably like an annoyed parent asking you to clean your room when they ask you to turn off your electronics and you, in shocked horror, explain that the main character in your book is in grave danger and there is no way you can wait the 10-20 minutes until you are in the air. They are equally annoyed when, after they've asked you to turn off your phone you say, "Oh no, you just don't understand- this isn't a phone- it's a book." They don't care- they just want it off.)

Regardless of the fact I was sentencing myself to 20 minutes of non-reading during take off and landing, I bought a brainless, bubble gum novel to entertain myself with in flight. (And I'm not above holding the itouch out of sight of the flight attendant in between the pages of the sky mall. I mean, really, is my touch going to bring down the plane? I think not.)

I read Schooled by Anisha Lakhani, a novel about what it's like to teach middle school at an elite prep-school in New York City. It was exactly the right amount of bubble gum brainlessness without being utter trash (not that I am above reading utter trash). However, I wasn't expecting to have quite so many "text-to-self" connections (as we teach our children to say).

The main character graduates from Columbia and decides, *gasp* to become a teacher. For real. She describes her best friend/sorority sister saying, "We all thought you were playing at the teaching thing. We didn't know you were serious."
Her parents respond to her desire to teach with "I have never been so disappointed in all my life." and "So this is it? This is your chosen profession?" To all this, the main character wonders, "Had I said I wanted to be a porn star? Or a poet?"

I was originally hired to teach in NYC public schools (a far world from the elite prep schools, I know) and when I told my mother I signed my contract she hung up on me. Hung up the phone.

I'm into my 7th year of teaching and I still feel the need to defend my reasons for my chosen profession to my peers at my elite "ivy-reject school" (where my peers walked around listing the ivys they could have gone to, but our school just offered a better scholarship). Some of my friends graduated and within a year were vice presidents of their companies. Or were quickly rising through the ranks of their successful companies, starting their own businesses, or were finishing in the top of their classes in law school.

I, of course, truly believe I have the best job in the world, and that teaching reading is the most important task anyone can do. Still, I know my peers don't see it that way. My parents, who paid for my private college tuition in a state with some of the best state schools in the country, probably were not overly impressed with my choices. (Since the hanging up on me moment they've been incredibly supportive, although that has directly correlated to me NOT teaching in NYC).

And Lakhani brings up the money issue. When post college all your friends can afford their fancy life style and you, on your teaching salary, are saving your pennies to buy staplers and books for your classroom.


I remember it all too well.

You'd think I'd be long over it by now. I love my job and have found my place in the world. But the little part of me who wants to stand up and yell "Oh yeah! I could have gone to law school if I wanted to!" is happy to have a book character to relate to.

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