You remember my telling you about Mike, right? He’s the teacher I hired to work at CHS this year, who turned out to be perfect in every way except that he wants an advanced degree, so he went out and got himself a killer deal at a school that he’d be an idiot to pass up, which means he’s leaving CHS this summer to go all the way across the country? Yeah, that guy.
Well, I’ve been stressing about finding someone to step in when Mike leaves. I don’t want to be the only English teacher in the department because that would mean I’d only teach core classes and would have no time (or budget) to teach any electives. Plus, you know, I’d go crazy here all by myself; English teachers, if you didn’t already suspect, are a particular breed of nerdy, and we need others of our kind to share that with. Anyway, one candidate who came to visit the school vibrated an energy that I knew was just wrong (and who, it turned out, wanted WAY more money than we could even THINK about offering him, so at least that worked out), and there hadn’t been any movement on trying to find anyone else. I was starting to get nervous.
A few weeks ago, my TA invited a couple of his poetry buddies to come and run a workshop in our class, and he mentioned that one of them was looking for a teaching gig. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, to be honest with you; I arrogantly assumed that the guy would be an irresponsible, barely-twentysomething with an associates degree who lived out of his car and thought that being a slam poet qualifies one to teach English.
I’m delighted to say that I was oh-so-very wrong.
The man who came to our class that day (let’s call him Mac) was poised and confident and managed to convey the ever-difficult balance of being approachable and down-to-earth while at the same time expecting respect and engagement. He led the class through a number of exercises that were really valuable, not just in terms of getting the product done (in this case, some creative writing as a lead-up to writing poetry, which led me to produce this piece), but also in terms of understanding concepts, as well; he wasn’t just interested in getting the kids to DO something, he wanted them to THINK, too. In the hour we spent together, I had developed a very strongly positive first impression.
We talked for a little bit after the class and I learned that he not only had a degree in English teaching, but that he was state certified and had some pretty significant experience in the classroom, as well. He went home and forwarded me his resume and credentials, and I planned to find out more.
Yesterday, we met at one of my favorite pizza places for a conversation about the possibility of Mac’s coming to work with me. In that time – and entirely without my prompting – he said some things that made me realize that I may have struck the coworker jackpot again; he’s competent, his teaching philosophy is exactly in line with mine (and, not for nothing, the school’s, as well), he’s enthusiastic and creative, and he’s got strengths where I’ve got weaknesses (and vice-versa). What’s more? I LIKE him; he’s funny and smart and we get each other’s jokes and movie quotes. I think that we could not only work well together, but that we could, quite possibly, kick ass.
I’ve asked my director to get funding for a part-time English teacher in this coming year’s budget, and then I’ve asked her to meet with Mac to make sure that she sees the same things in him that I see. It may well be that I’ve scored two consecutive co-worker wins, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this all plays out.