I Swear to You They Didn’t Get My Good Side

It’s picture day.

Everyone knows the camera on the iPhone 4 is shoddy!

Everyone knows the camera on the iPhone 4 is shoddy!

As documented in this blog, I gained something like 10 pounds this summer and unlike those new pairs of socks, I haven’t lost it. I’m not a scientist, but it’s probably the combination of summer chillaxin’ and eating out at least twice a day in California. We had to give the Insanity back from the person we borrowed it from, but Lynnette and I are supposed to start working out with a new program that we actually own. I hope I can stick with it and I hope it helps me control my weight, which – as is pretty obvious – fluctuates constantly, but mostly in the upward direction.

So, please do not judge me too harshly for this yearbook picture. This is essentially a picture of a picture, so that’s about an extra 55 pounds, give or take. I guess my hope is to look just as dark, but noticeably thinner next school year. Also, we’re supposed to wear these badges every day, but I really want to light it on fire, then drop it into an empty coffee can, then pee into the can, just to hear the hiss. Let’s do this, 2013-2014!

Because even though this is my 12th year, I can't ever remember details like these.

Because even though this is my 12th year, I can’t ever remember details like these.

I don’t have to attend any specific orientation session until noon today, so I’ve already started preparing myself for Monday. I’ve posted all of the important information to the bulletin board next to my desk. I’ve tried not to allow these documents to clutter pictures of my daughter, but it is what it is. I’ve printed out all of my handouts for the first day. The copy room was a pretty popular place this morning. You know how in movies they’ll portray a wild office party which invariably includes a person or persons xeroxing a risque part of their anatomy? That could never happen at Damien. Yes, because of our high moral standards, but also because the xerox machine would jam in the process. It was jammed yesterday afternoon and I just laughed. There aren’t many guarantees in life, but paper jams are one of them. Come at me, 2013-2014!

It's not an new iPad, but it might be better.

It’s not an new iPad, but it might be better.

The one other Mets fan on staff (and possibly on the island) came by my classroom bearing gifts this morning. A real New Yorker, he visited Citi Field during the summer and brought me back a few Mets artifacts. The pen, in true Mets fashion, will probably write well to starts, but then screw up about halfway through, which will cause me to swear at it, then discard it.

The magnet celebrates the All-Star Game which was held in Citi Field this year. I would like to find a place of prominence for it, but will likely lose it if I keep it in my classroom. I suppose it shall find a home on the side of the fridge next to all of the other magnets in our house that Madison hasn’t affixed to the front of the washer and dryer.

There’s never a transition, you know? I’m a teacher until I’m not, then I don’t do anything related to my job for two months. Then, I’m immediately a teacher again. Every summer, about two weeks out from the school year, I’ll try to think about what I’ll have to do as Mr. Higa. I forget. My handwriting is deplorable in those waning days of summer. When I signed all those papers for the Highlander, I was disgusted with my signature and myself. It seems kind of daunting.

It’s not difficult for me to remain humble about my work. I don’t get paid much, and it is both repetitive and never-ending. My AP Class did great on the exam this May. There were two 5s, three 4s, and the class average was above a 3. It is the best performance of any of my classes yet. When I was 22, I just needed a job. Honestly, I cared about the details of the job, and I generally tried my best, but I wasn’t really any good at it. I was freelancing, really, taking the basics I knew and making things up as I went along.

I saw a former student in the parking lot yesterday. I taught him during my second year. He’s 25, older now than I was then. It was great to catch up. But it made me wonder. I was a kid then. I’m a better teacher now than I was 4  years ago, and I was better teacher then than 4 years before that. I am haunted by this knowledge.

Over time, those classes must remember me differently. I was disorganized, then I was organized, now I know what to say simply by looking at the page in the book. I was skinny, then I was chubby, now I’m fat. But I genuinely feel like most of them remember me fondly, regardless of when they were in my classroom. I am grateful for that. But still. I wasn’t doing it the way I am now. Was it enough in 2002? What about 2006? I don’t know. My only hope is that every single student that’s been in my class believes I taught them something useful – literature, grammar, or otherwise. That’s the kind of thing I never cared to think about when I was 22, but it’s the most important thing to me now, professionally. I don’t remember exactly when that happened, but like so many things in life that happen without our notice, I suppose it was gradual and slow-moving.

It is moving still.

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