The Daily Prompt I’m writing about today is:
What giant step did you take where you hoped your leg wouldn’t break? Was it worth it, were you successful in walking on the moon, or did your leg break?
I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to talk about, but here goes:
They’re ranged in front of me, polite and expectant. I stand there silent. The silence grows until it almost becomes a concrete object, a crystal structure suspended between me and the audience. Eventually, the discomfort of the silence becomes greater than the fear. The crystal shatters; I start to speak. It seems as if my voice is coming from outside my body. I hear it as I like it the least: high-pitched, nasal, cracking — but the voice continues, and eventually, the voice and I become one again. I have started teaching my first real class.
I’m convinced that there’s a gene for teaching. My parents are both teachers and my three siblings have all taught at some time in their lives. It’s pretty clear now that I also carry the gene. Before September 1989, however, I would have disagreed with this. Fiercely introverted, I deliberately avoided all courses where marks were given for class participation; actually at times I deliberately avoided class altogether. I was dismissive of any suggestion that I go into education (which shows impressive stubbornness for an English major).
I have to admit that the first indications weren’t auspicious. Supply teaching for my mother’s ESL program, I ask the students, most of them at least 20 years my senior, “Would you like to read this article, and then we will answer the questions together?” In deference to their age, I am instinctively using indirect language; the students, however, interpret the question literally. They say, quite pleasantly, “No.” It is an extremely short class (Lesson 1 in IDIOMS101 — for me).
A few years later, in my last year of undergraduate study, I have volunteered to present information on a university club. I walk into the lecture room, look up at what seems to be a stadiumful of students, freeze, then dump the papers on the lectern and run away.