Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Making Uncool Cool

At least three times in less than a week, someone has told me what an excellent teacher I am. I don't take such compliments lightly, as I've had a lingering flirtation with the idea of becoming a teacher. I also don't take them entirely seriously, as my teaching consists of an hour and a half session about various computer related products (including this here Blogger platform), or five minute reference transactions when I "teach" customers how to use library databases. An in-the-trenches teacher, I am not.

And now that I have, for the moment anyway, settled into appreciating my job for its good parts, I am not taking the compliments as a sign from above that I need to rush out and spend $10,000 and a year of my life to get a teaching credential. No. Thank. You.

But I have learned something in my time working with teenagers in what amounts to a classroom setting: Look 'em in the eyes, folks.

See, I wasn't a particularly good teenager. And what I mean is that I was very well behaved, completely absorbed in my studies and focused on jam-packing my college applications as much as possible.

In other words, I wasn't very good at being a teenager. I didn't hang out with a passle of gossiping girls at the mall. I was only snarky about annoying people when within the comfort of my own social group, never actually voicing a bullying word to someone who just happened to be below my near-the-bottom rung on the social ladder.

So, working with a certain breed of teenagers means that I have to entirely forget what it felt like to live at the bottom. I know they can see right through me, because let's face it I'm a bookworm who plays Warcraft with her boyfriend...I'm still not exactly at the top of the coolness pile.

But today, in a room with eleven pregnant or parenting teenage girls, all who struck me as having come from their own version of the "cool" group, I sang "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Start" and bounced in my seat as I read aloud from "Ten in the Bed." I sacrificed what little bit of cool I may have, and I didn't mind one bit.

I looked them in the eyes, and I sang, and I made the accompanying hand gestures. I smiled through their rolling eyes.

And then, when it was over, I led them in a discussion about careers, resumes and job hunting.

When I asked them the sample interview question, "Why should we hire you?"

One girl said, "Because I need a job!"

And, perhaps because I didn't care whether or not they thought I was cool, a few of the other girls jumped in and said, "Well, then, thanks for coming in, bye bye."

So, try though they did to look cool, they knew they didn't have much to stand on...only two girls had EVER had a part-time job, and they had to rely on my experience and my knowledge.

I'm not saying I won them over, but I am saying that I have successfully moved beyond worrying whether or not high school girls think I'm cool.

p.s. if you haven't already notice that nifty pink button over there in the right hand corner, please take a look now and think about de-lurking tomorrow, as part of the Great MoFo Delurk (much as I may prefer if the phrase "mofo" wasn't in it, I miss my commenters! apparently I'm not the only one who has noticed a drop...so...join me returning to the land of commenting blog readers). I may be over getting high school students to think I'm cool, but I still want to know that the folks who read this blog like what they see!


Mommy of two in small town USA said...

HI! I'm reading, I find what you say to be very enlightening and you are very funny! I picked up your blog from InCircle - I'm very new to blogs and am working on trying to work up the nerve to get my own going.

Sarah said...

Well write away...it's a great stress reliever!