FORTY-SIX

I WAS TALKING to a co-worker today.  He is a really great teacher who has taught for years and years, so I asked him, "Haven't you been Teacher of the Year?"  He admitted he'd been nominated, but it is a ton of paperwork and a bit of work.  The whole process is somewhat awkward, too because you have to write essays about yourself.  I can see why someone wouldn't want to go to all the trouble.  The best case scenario too, is that you win, and then have to write even MORE essays, and make speeches and whatnot.  I could see why he wouldn't want to do it.  But on the other hand, I think, he's a pretty amazing teacher.  I try really hard to be as logical, methodical and patient as he is, but we are pretty much polar opposites -- I'm the hippie waving my arms while he calmly takes his students through a step-by-step process.  He is a gifted educator, and someone who I look up to professionally.

We talked very briefly about the difference between male and female teachers, and I realized that, in this modern world, male teachers carry a heavy burden.  They do not have the same freedoms that female teachers do.  A male teacher can sometimes be viewed suspiciously.  Are they a safe person?  It is a shame that teachers today have to be so very careful about how things might possibly appear if the wrong person thought the wrong thing.  And I do think this falls heavier on the shoulders of a male teacher than a female one.

On the other hand, though, he can go for a run by himself at 5 a.m. when it is still dark out.  He can also go for a late night run alone.  These are the things that I cannot do - and not just because I've got a bum knee.  I know that simply due to size and strength, I could be easily overpowered by most men, and it causes me to change the way I navigate through the world.  I do not go for a run when it is dark.  I watch that one creepy guy out of the corner of my eye at the gym, as he circles the workout room in seemingly endless loops.  Why is he doing that?  What is he looking for?  I do not walk to my car starring down at my phone.  It isn't a safe posture.  I don't even high-five the guy next to me who started on the elliptical the same time as me -- my workout twin.  He might take it the wrong way.  

On the other hand, last year, every Thursday a group of 5th grade girls stayed after school in my room.  They working on their comic book and accompanying website.  No one thought it strange.  I don't fall under the same scrutiny a male teacher would in the exact same situation.  

It is a strange world we live in with complicated rules.  It is too bad that we have so much too watch out for, and so little trust.  I understand the caution, but wish that we could focus on all the good things out there, not so much the bad.  I think of all the hardworking teachers who are right now grading papers, cutting out 30 paper flowers, or studying a new educational product or teaching technique.  I think about all the teachers who are scouring youTube for the perfect video to really enhance their student's understanding.  The world is full of kind, thoughtful, patient, wonderful people.  It's too bad we never hear about them on the news.

--Jen