Posts Tagged ‘teaching as an art form’

It occurred to me today that I’m actually a bloody good actor.  Actress?  Person who metamorphoses into another being for a limited period of time.

I was in my Year 7 Science class – only the third time I’ve had them, so they’re not yet used to me.  Today was the inaugural Be Safe In The Lab lesson, and one that I tend to try very hard to make interesting – I figure if it’s fun, they’ll remember it, and hopefully not do anything stupid or dangerous until at least Year 8.

I tried something new this year, and it seemed to work.  I dressed in the usual lab safety gear of a lab coat, goggles, gloves and closed shoes, and added to this a hi-vis vest, ear protection, a dust mask and a hard hat.  I then went through with the kids and got them to work out which elements were unnecessary in a high school science lab, removing what wasn’t appropriate and leaving what was.  I was on a roll.  I was utterly on fire, in a good way.  I had them laughing, thinking, participating.

I had a moment, though, watching myself as though from outside, and realised that I wasn’t quite sure who this woman was.  She looked like me.  She sounded like me.  She even used similarly unusual turns of phrase, obscure references, Britishisms and hyperbole in the same manner as me.  She was me.  But she wasn’t me.

Then I realised – she was Me, The Teacher.

My hat.  My mask.  My classroom persona.  I even had myself fooled into believing that this person was me.  I walk into the classroom, and I become her for the time I’m there.  And then I’m myself again.  The quieter version.  The more reserved, introspective incarnation.  The one who worries that her happiness means that she’s actually horribly miserable but hasn’t realised yet.  The one who still doesn’t feel like me, but is the best I have.

I don’t have a script, but it’s method acting at it’s finest.  I live the role.  I become the role.

And that frightens me, because it makes me wonder who the real me really is.

And that frightens me, because when I have a kid tell me that her sister has pursued the sciences and is so much like me and still talks about me and what an influence I had on her, I smile and say that’s great and I’m so pleased that she’s continuing her studies in science, and then shake violently all the way home because is it really me that is making that difference to her life?  Or is it my role of a lifetime?  Do I have a right to that level of influence?

And that frightens me, because what if I screw up?


I’ve been thinking about this ever so much.  Somehow, a switch has flicked in my head this year.  I don’t know if it’s a result of last year and the crap I had to put up with and the feelings of uselessness, not being wanted or needed, rejection and deep melancholy, the loss of being able to care about what I was doing or the effect it was having on me and the people around me… I don’t know if it’s because of the events just prior to Christmas that shook my world and shattered my innocent trust, forcing me to reevaluate my perceptions of my life and my choices… I don’t know if it’s a combination of all of those things.  Something, though, has happened, and I feel like a butterfly slowly emerging from a chrysalis.  I am becoming… something.  Something more than before.  I feel powerful and strong in a way that I never have before, and at the same time, more fragile and vulnerable than ever before.  I see more clearly, the world has lost the drab grey film it wore for so long, and I find myself behaving in a new and interesting way.  Walking taller, sitting up straighter, asserting myself and making choices about what I do and don’t want to be a part of my personality.

I don’t know what has happened.  I am not myself, and yet I am.


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