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What I Love about Teaching; and Zanzibar

November 12, 2010

I used to have a terrible, terrible habit of rehearsing conversations in my head before I actually had them…particularly with people I wanted to impress. The conversations would almost always fell flat! If they didn’t fall flat, it felt nauseating for me to behave so artificially. They’re just conversations, a kind of mild form of improvisation, I feel. Some enjoy it more than others, but I believe that everyone enjoys some good conversation, right?  Of course, there are several reasons why we love conversation, but I’ll just give you one: It’s something unscripted; it’s something… improvised.  Ever go to a improv/comedy show?  For whatever reason, there is something in the human brain that makes us laugh so much more to something that is made up on the spot.  But at the same time there is always a structure to it.  Give me a character the actor might say…or and give me a scenario he might add. This is what I love about teaching, the structure balanced with the unpredictability that goes into each and every day.

Yep, we go to school on Sunday.

Everyday we as teachers have our day planned out minute by minute, from the amount of time it takes to a class to wash their hands, to how long it might take to teach a new math game, to trying to figure out if planning Jimmy’s B-Day celebration during lunch was the best way to go.  It’s all structured.  But often the lesson plans get tweaked or thrown out…the students need more of this, they need less of that, etc.  But it’s really the children that add to the improvisation of your otherwise planned out day.  Teachers have to think on their feet all day and expect the unexpected…we’re improvising constantly.  There was a fight a recess?  Looks like our class has to have a talk about expectations and respect.  There’s a sandstorm and we need to have indoor recess?  Where did I leave those board games?  Abdullah has another way to add two-digit numbers?  I better let him take the floor.

Perhaps it’s the fact that thinking on our feet and improvising is based primarily on the texture of the moment.  As if that moment is an intricate puzzle piece, and the “improvisor” has shifted or contorted his/her figure/thinking in such a way that it fits into that particular puzzle piece of a moment.  That’s one reason why teaching is so damn hard, but so damn fulfilling at the same time!

On another note, in about one hour and a half, a friend and I will be in cab on our way to the airport.  2 hours after that, we’ll be on a plane to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Several hours after that, we’ll be taking a ferry to the island of Zanzibar, where me and two other teacher friends will spend the next five days. We’re trying to get to the airport 3 hours before the flight since it’s the Eid holiday and everyone’s trying to get out of the country. Because…last year I didn’t do that.  And I missed my flight!  That’s all I’m gonna say about that.

Since I’m a terrible traveler, I haven’t done a whole lot of research.  But with temperatures mostly in the low 80’s, I can see us spending a lot of time on the beach. There’s the possibility of renting a motorcycle for cheap and exploring the island.  We’ve also got plans to do some snorkeling…and check out a bit of the nightlife.  I know it’s all very vague right now, but I’ll be sure to bring back some details when I get back…Now, where did I leave my passport.

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