An excerpt from the chapter – Back of the Class

Teaching has to be one of the most under-appreciated professions. On the other side of the coin you have politicians serving in the U.S Congress collecting 6 figure salaries for doing a negligible amount of work. It would seem that their essential focus is oriented towards raising money, consolidating their power and staying in office.

By and large it is teachers who create the intellectual foundations that serve as the proverbial launchpad for their students, teachers are a key component in creating something lasting, but in the same breath they also harbor an ability to destroy.

With the elapsing of time comes clarity, the connection that we have with the most pivotal periods of our lives is often flavored with emotion, whether we categorize that emotion as useful or detrimental depends entirely on the lessons that you’ve garnered from it. I have spoken previously about the dedication and selflessness of my high school English teacher who saw potential in a young man that others merely deemed a future menace to society, but with any happy ending there must be a beginning.

One of the pivotal moments of my life sadly could have been the beginning of the end before I had the opportunity to get started. When I was in the 5th grade I had a curiously unproductive and adversarial relationship with my teacher, who took did not take well to my adolescent rambunctiousness, but instead making a sincere effort at engagement with her pupil. She sought to make a lesson of me and succeeded in planting an inferiority complex in me, which resulted in my being a bitter and angry young man, before I was able to free myself from its grasp.

I can’t remember what prompted her epiphany of disciplinary enlightenment, but in an attempt to tamp down on me and a fellow classmate’s forays into the depths of Class Clownism, she moved to separate the both of us from the general population of the class. Our desks were moved to the opposite ends of the classroom; with us being an island all to ourselves I assume that she figured that this would purge us of our mischievous proclivities. My desk was positioned at the rear of the class facing the wall, while my  partner in crime)had his desk facing the wall at the front of the class.

To this day, this is still one of the most embarrassing moments of my life. Being faced with the reality of dozens of eyeballs being fixated on me coupled with scattered laughter echoing from the disparate areas of the classroom, my ego came crashing to Earth with a thud.

I turned myself around completely so the class could not bear witness to the sadness that was indelibly etched on my face. I found myself blinking hard and summoning every measure of my 10 year old being to fight back the tears that felt as if they were forming in the pit of my stomach. The tears came gushed with a torrential force and stung my face as they streamed from my eyes; I wiped them away as if they were acid.

I went through a host of emotions with the heaviest being an acute sense of embarrassment, shame and inadequacy… I sat in the back of the classroom for quite some time, every time I made the trek to the back of the room past all of my classmates. I recall harboring thoughts that there had to be something innately wrong with me, why else would she separate me from my peers and subject me to ridicule if this wasn’t the case?

It was after a parent/teacher meeting a couple weeks later that saw my reintroduction to the classroom at large, but by this time it was too late, the shame that I felt gave way to anger, bitterness and a chip on my shoulder… If they wanted a bad kid, I was certainly going to give them their money’s worth.

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