I am not the best teacher on earth. I do not necessarily believe everything I teach, nor am I a good authoritarian who can mask my moral distress over what I teach. This has worked in my benefit with flaws in the curriculum or when the students bare their teeth over the textbook– I am not to blame, the Program is!
But I have learned how to win the love of people between the ages of 17-20 who have been placed into my class at the request of the University. I am told, “Make them better college writers, and we will provide you with just enough money to pay rent, buy groceries, and buy hideous clothes from Target because apparently that’s what grad students wear.”
Here are a few tips, from the headquarters of Famous For Bad Reasons, on how to be an effective teacher as you wait for grad school to be over:
Talking Points with Your Students
1.) Is Kanye West really a “fuck-up”? I mean, what’s so bad about telling the President he doesn’t care about black people? Can we prove or disprove Kanye’s point?
2.) When Madonna kidnaps children, is it just annoying or emblematic of white privilege? And what’s her fake British accent all about?
3.) Is Paula Deen’s accent truly “disgusting” to your Boston suburbanite students? Is your teacher, who is from the South, able to get away with being charming and having an accent? Come on, guys. Let’s talk about me.
4.) Why did Gertrude Stein get to write whatever she wanted in a paper but students cannot? Meaning, why can my students not write sentences like this, it helped create modern language in today’s society and therefore no one should have the right to say when, if any, commas ever, should not, exist.
5.) How can one use Tarot cards to find out what to major in?
Fun Activities For Your Students
1.) Class debate. Focus on a hot topic the students can really get into, like, “are manpurses acceptable?” Or even better, “Is it okay to shoot wolves from helicopters?”
2.) Divide your students into groups. Tell them to combine all their research interests together and come up with a lobbyist group. This leads to such groups as “Blameless Little Prostitutes” and “Eating Disordered Vigilantes Are Killing Our Gay Friends.” Keep in mind that your students will benefit from this sort of confusion in the way that we all do, by reaching for a Tarot deck and seeking clarification.
3.) Talk freely about anything not pertaining to writing, including, “Can I please go move my car? It’s parked illegally.” Yes, of course you can, unless you’re drunk.
4.) Feed your students food and then tell them if they don’t eat what you put in front of them, that “a vigilante group on the border of Mexico will shoot at incoming immigrants.” And that’s what will get even the most diet-obsessed, sad teen girl shoving a donut in her mouth. Trust me.
Do Not Let Your Students Get Away with the Following
1.) Admitting they’re drunk from last night in class.
2.) Calling you a groupie.
3.) Asking you what your plans for the weekend are.
4.) Asking you to live with them.
If You Have Succeeded as Teacher
The following things may happen: you may have a pet named after you, receive an invite to a student’s home for Thanksgiving (and do not take it), find out you have earned an endearing nickname, garnered good student evaluations despite the fact that you were falling apart from illness while teaching, gotten rides to the Trader Joe’s when your former student sees you at a bus stop (on her way back from the police department for getting busted for a party), etc.
The possibilities are endless.
I did not write this.