Sunday, October 02, 2005

Meet the Family

Here is my lovely family in a photo taken in November of 2003. (Clockwise from lower left, Julie, John, J.B., Erika and me).

I've been teaching my seventh graders about the genre of biographies. Last year, it was a troublesome genre. The kids have trouble drawing the line between paraphrasing another text and performing thinly-veiled plagiarism. (Of course, I knew kids in college who had the same problem...they just hid it a little better.) I decided to skirt the issue by making the kids write biographies on people they know. First I had to teach them how to conduct interviews, and I let them practice on me.

One of classes was more fascinated by my parents than by me. Here's a sample of our conversation.

Devon: How old are you?
Me: 25.
(This is followed by various proclamations of disbelief because they all think I'm in my mid-thirties. Their concept of a mid-20s white girl is Paris Hilton, so I'm not too insulted that they think I'm older.)

Matthew: Who raised you?
Me: My parents, John and Julie. My parents have been married for almost 34 years.
(This is followed by stunned murmurs).
Stephanie: That's really good, Miss!
Me: I know, and they're still in love.

David: How did they meet?
Me: At college. Dad was in a fraternity and mom was in a sorority. Those are college clubs. One of his friends wanted to date one of her friends, but she didn't want to go out with him alone, so my parents agreed to come, too. The other couple didn't stay together, but my parents did.

It went on like that. They learned that my mom has been teaching for about 34 years, that my dad is a farmer and a mailman, that my brother is a microbiologist and my sister-in-law is an accountant. They learned about my too-adorable niece, Brooke. Then they asked about my career goals.

Yomaris: Why did you become a teacher?
Me: Well for one thing, my mom was a teacher, and I got to see the positive effect she had on her students' lives. For another thing...I was working as a reporter and I really liked it, but some days I was at work from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. the next day. I decided that if I was going to work so hard, I might as well be helping people.
Reidy: Why did you come teach here?
Me: I wanted to help people, and I heard this was a place where they really needed teachers.

Then someone, I don't remember who, asked me if it was my dream to be a teacher, whether this was my final career, my perfect fit. For the first time, I was tempted to lie, because there are times when I want to quit and run far, far away. In the end, I opted to play spin doctor.

Me: I don't know how I'll feel in the future, but it's feels right for now. It's a challenging job. It's really hard sometimes, but some days I see one of my students learn something or get inspired or write something amazing. Then it all feels worth it.

And the funny thing is, it's true.

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