Tag Archives: teaching

Beyond comfortable

So I’m on currently on a “put myself in uncomfortable situations” kick.  Not sure what brought this on, but twice now in a week I’ve willingly done something that makes me feel…awkward.  Anxious.  Out of place.

First was the staff dance that teachers and other adults in my school perform every year at the Homecoming assembly.  Yeah, I’m not big on dancing-at least not in that situation.  I’m all for shakin’ it on the dance floor at a wedding, but the teacher dance has always been an activity I avoid like the plague.  Making a fool of myself in front of the whole student body is not my thing.  I figure, I probably embarrass myself unintentionally during class at least once a day anyway, so why add to the humiliation by doing so on purpose?

It was so sweet being on maternity leave last year at Homecoming time, so I didn’t have to deal with it at all.  Almost every other year of my career, I was in charge of Student Council, which meant I was basically in charge of ALL of Homecoming.  I figured that, plus fall cross-country coaching, should excuse me from pressure to participate in anything else.

Anyway…back to the point.  I’m attempting to do the teacher dance this year.  I still, admittedly, have zero desire to do it, but here are a few reasons that override what I want.

Sometimes, as teachers, it’s good to let students see our goofy side.  It opens up conversation and builds connections.  Plus, I’m no longer a coach or club sponsor, so I do feel I ought to be involved in something in the Homecoming festivities.  And the biggest reason for making a fool of myself  in a dance routine?  It’s important to step outside of our “comfort zone” once in awhile.  Students are required to do stuff they hate, stuff that doesn’t interest them, stuff that terrifies them, on a regular basis.  Some are uncomfortable with reading, or group work, or tests, or speeches, or artwork, but they have to try all of these at one point or another.  Everybody has to go along with something they dislike from time to time, whether for work or relationships or general life-sustenance.

Doing this dance is my feeble attempt to show students that they shouldn’t be content just doing what comes easily or naturally to them.  There’s value and purpose in venturing beyond those things.  You never know where that first step into uncharted territory may lead.  You might discover a hidden talent or passion.  You might create a new friendship.  You might gain opportunities you never even knew existed.

For me, this is just one brief dance routine with coworkers, which I don’t expect to enjoy, but it’s yet another tiny step towards a braver me.  Heck, I was petrified of public speaking when I began teaching, but I did it anyway.  I found that once I got to know the kids, it wasn’t public speaking at all.  It was simply sharing subjects I love with others.  It still scares me an awful lot, but that’s nothing compared to the fear I had thirteen years ago.  There have been some rather amazing experiences and moments with my students.  Having the courage to face my fears is what brought me into those magical moments.

So, even if I look like Elaine from Seinfeld when we perform in a few weeks, it’ll be okay.  I’ll know why I’m doing it, and I’ll attempt to hold on to a shred of dignity (but I confess, I plan to be well-disguised the second we step onto that gym floor!).

Here’s to trying what isn’t easy!  After all, how many worthwhile things in life ever are?


Random bright moments in teaching

I have had a lot of great times in nearly twelve years of teaching.  In addition to teaching French and English, I coached cross-country and was advisor for Student Council.  Here’s a rundown of a few top memories I’ve compiled:

-being nicknamed “Traubie” by Kayla B. and having it stick through the years until I married and took my husband’s name

– the class of 2006 dubbed “les petits pois” (the peas)–Puce (Lucy), Pamplemousse, Peter, and others

“Watch the bread!”–moment from the textbook video where Pierre’s bread moves inexplicably on the counter (noted by les Petits Pois)

-my crepe-eating contest with Lucy on my birthday

-getting together for fondue several years after that class graduated

-having a picnic in Russell Woods where we played on the playground and I got to eat my first PB & J

-first field trip to Chicago, inspired by  Candice, Sarah, Jeremiah, and the class of 2005

-Erica V’s junior English persuasive speech with posters illustrating the evils of Cheetos: tasty little death sticks

-Mr G-K when the boys surprised me with flowers

-favorite Mr. G-K moments: Jacob W’s lip-sync performance, John J’s “van down by the river” skit, the Thriller opening act, the Blue Man Group-style opening act, Ben N’s skit pretending to be Mr. Stirlen, many other skits with students playing the roles of their teachers

-getting to know StuCo kids in conversations over basketball concessions

-StuCo state convention with Jamie, Lucy, and Kate when we only stayed for half a meeting, then wandered the Capitol for a few hours and ended up going home a day early

-singing the national anthem for the basketball sectional finals

-when one of the candidates for Genoa Days Queen gave my name as her answer to the question “Who is an adult you admire?”

-kids encouraging me to sing “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” at Winter Retreat

-getting to stay in cool hotels a couple of times a year for retreats

-playing “Spoons” at retreats

-making a video of “the forms of aller” with the class of 2011

-making a “monster mash” video with class of 2011

-all the class of 2011 videos: etre, animaux (Regarde, un canard!), couleurs (Peter and Alana trying to do U Can’t Touch This and change clothes layers every 2 seconds)

-Kelly M. and Sam H. falling into the trash can during a heated match of the eraser game

-Ryan P’s artwork done for vocabulary projects

-Lindsay’s poster of Mr. Bonbon Man

-a student saying the kiss in a story the class was creating was no big deal because “it’s just a French kiss!”

-Arthur, a student, giving me his former math teacher’s phone number, telling me he thought we would make a cute couple

-when a senior in my class stood up for me to some punk kids

-a group’s (Ixtel, Alaina, and Jamie) PowerPoint video on parts of the haunted house, complete with musical excerpts from scary movies

-taking my niece’s Flat Stanley picture along on our field trip to Chicago

-trying my first escargot with students taking pictures at La Sardine, and watching many of them try it themselves

-teaching lots of kids to make crepes

-baking chocolate chip cookies sometimes three or four times a week to sell to raise money for our French field trips

-sitting in on a Global Affairs class and listening to the teacher rant about various topics

–taking at least one runner to the cross-country Sectional meet every year

-cross-country kids begging almost daily to play ultimate Frisbee for practice

-team dinners at my house and team members’ houses

-Charlie B. Moose, the giant stuffed cross-country mascot that two boys ran their entire race with

-Chris M. coming to see me at school two years after his graduation to tell me he had accepted Christ and planned on going into ministry

-my now dear friends and mentors telling me how they appreciated me providing a safe place for their daughter and being a Christlike example for her

I know I’m leaving out a ton, but this is a good start!  Every teacher needs to keep some kind of record of the positive experiences–they sometimes are all that keep you going when frustrations are building.  Most of the time, I’ve loved my work, so I want to remember the good times.