After four decades in the classroom, teaching English has become more and more like a dicey game to me. There’s considerable uncertainty, day by day. Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose; sometimes there’s steadiness and peace, sometimes there’s disarray and struggle. On any day, my lessons could come together into enlightenment or fall apart into failure. Uncertainty is at the center of all satisfying games, and in the midst of a given English class, uncertainty reigns. I never know: Are the students learning anything? Will this lesson crack into bits and pieces in the next few minutes? Will the sleepy kids sigh with relief when the period ends? Or … will this become one of my finest teaching moments? Will the principal pass by and praise the learning that’s radiating from my room? Truly, when I’m teaching, I sometimes feel like I did when I played high school football, flinging my self around the field in happy abandon. I don’t do any flinging in Room 2, but there’s a certain amount of abandon and inhibition in my teaching, just as there was in my football days. If you’re going to play a game – football or teaching – you have to accept, and love, the rowdy uncertainty of it all.
© 2010 Hamilton Salsich