Having learned from past students who joined our nation’s military, I feel that the first year on a job has one similarity to survival school. I do not dare say it is as physically demanding as what our servicemen and women go through. I merely mean that you feel like you are reacting to what is around you more than planning ahead more than one or two days. And all jobs have different degrees of planning time and reacting time. Police officers and firefighters train and train and train to be able to make life-saving decisions. I imagine emergency room doctors have to react more than my family doctor. I bet some brokers have to react to the stock market faster than mine does, since I do not check how much my fifty shares of Disney and fifty shares of Boeing are worth each day. However, we all go through periods in our jobs when we have to react, and we have moments when we have time to think it through.
My freshman year of teaching had me one to two days ahead of the kids. I would read the selections and make a lesson plan. I used my weekends to develop long-term plans or units which would utilize shorter works of fiction and nonfiction. Nonetheless, “teachable moments” or complications would occur daily and force me to change my plans. One such day was when a fight broke out in the classroom.
I was in my own teacher world, oblivious to what problems lurked in the room. Being a beginner, I had no extra sensory perspiration nor had I grown my set of eyes in the back of my head that most teachers have. As I was writing on the chalk board, I heard screaming; I turned around to see two girls slugging it out. I immediately used my loud lifeguard voice and told them, “Cease and desist!!!” I had taught those the words the week before and was hoping the vocabulary lesson stuck. It didn’t. They continued to fight. I rushed over to break it up. One girl backed away, or did I push her a little? The other girl fell down, so I sat on her. (I really feel uncomfortable trying to guess where or how to restrain a girl, so this seemed to work.) I sent the young lady standing to the office, and she seemed happy to go. Perhaps, she was losing? I and another teacher escorted the other student to the office, after she calmed down. Later, I learned that she was angry because she or her mother was called a name.
So much for that day’s lesson. I do not remember what I was teaching; I am sure the kids in the class do not remember it. I was forced to react to a situation and deal with it. But as Scarlett O’Hara says in Gone with the Wind, After all, tomorrow is another day.” Thus, I redid lesson plans and moved on. I had to react. I had to adapt. I had to improvise. I had to overcome. Just like every occupation out there. Our ability to deal with sudden change makes us more successful.