A Story About Teaching.

There are several reasons I love teaching. Well, more than several. Lots, heaps, tons, loads, actually. Here’s one of them.

Over the last week, I’ve had the rare opportunity to return to my alma mater, Semiahmoo Secondary School in the south end of Surrey, teaching a subject I used to take, IB English 11 and 12. Don’t know anything about IB? It’s okay, no one does. In short, it’s an internationally-recognized advanced program that allows high school students to complete first-year university while in grade 12. It’s cool. It was invaluable for preparing me for university when I was in high school, and I’ve always enjoyed coming back to teach it.

It’s not often I get a chance to teach for a week, and even less often that I get to be teaching my favorite subject, English. Whenever I get these kinds of opportunities, I always like to bring books into my class to share. I think the joy of reading is something that is missed out on by so many, and I want to share that joy with my students. I will bring in some of my favorite books and read some of my favorite passages to my class. The odd time, a student will take me up on my suggestion that we swap books. It’s great because then I know my books are being enjoyed by others aside from myself, and the kids expose me to some of the things they are reading.

Ironically, I started doing this because MY IB English teacher did this in our class. I’ll never forget when I brought him in a book I really enjoyed, a kind of tripe-y thing by David Morrell(I was 17) and he brought it back and told me point-blank that it was “drugstore trash”. I thought it was so cool a teacher was giving me his honest opinion, even if it was something I potentially didn’t want to hear.

Anyhow, back to my class. This week ended up being especially awesome because every single book I brought in was borrowed by someone! That never happens. Generally, the kids are too shy to bring in their own stuff or too shy to ask me to borrow my books.

On Friday, a student told me there was this book that I absolutely HAD to read, a combo novel by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett called Good Omens. She said it would adequately fit my sense of humor and she thought I would really like it. I told her that was awesome, made a note of it, and told her I would set about finding a copy of it.

Today, she came up to me and said “Merry Christmas”, and handed me a brand-new copy of the book. She had gone out this weekend and bought me a copy.

Merry Christmas, indeed.


If you’re wondering, the books I brought in to read:

The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon
A Million Little Pieces/My Friend Leonard by James Frey
jPod by Douglas Coupland
A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby