Welcome to the Department of Education, which is so desperate for teachers that they won’t even require a graduate degree or teaching credentials to enter a classroom. They issue certifications that are “emergency,” which I’m guessing refers to an emergency dearth of instructors. This can be construed as ad hoc or stop-gap, but as far as many of us are concerned, it also served as our path to entering all of this madness. After all, if you think about it, Teach for America technically wouldn’t exist without said bureaucratic loophole.
As far as our daily lives are concerned, the immediate ramifications of these circumstances translates into weekend grad school courses. So in addition to a hellish five-day work week and weekend grading and prep sessions, we also get thrown into classrooms—all of which, in New York at least, seem to lack windows—and examine the dynamics of classroom practice on our ever-changing students. For six to eight hours.
That being said, any teacher would be lying if they told you they were 100% engaged the entire Saturday session. It’s a practice in futility and biologically impossible given the parameters of the human attention span. We’re tired, we’re teachers, and we need sleep, coffee, beer, drugs (illegal or legal), and other stimulants to recharge our worn out and semi-rechargeable batteries.
Thankfully, there’s wireless internet. There is a God, and She loves us. Now you can scan through sports scores, YouTube, or Facebook and distract yourself while your teacher goes through Bloom’s Taxonomy for the 100th time. It helps pass the time, and it also serves as a light buffer against the fringes of insanity that creep up on our sleep-deprived mind.
But what happens to the hapless masses who do not have wireless internet, or even a laptop? Do not fret, there are plenty of other ways to keep yourself occupied. Courtesy of the ULOT, here are our suggestions for making weekend grad school grand:
1) The breath game: They can take away your cell phones. They can also take away your pens and paper. But unlike Tom Cruise, they definietly cannot take your breath away. For this, all you need is a watch, analog or digital. Time how long you can hold your breath for, and then try to beat that time. Give yourself five time trials, then a minute to recover. Any more than five, we’ve discovered, and your brain functions start to dwindle.
Alternative-the hyperventilation game: See how many breaths you can take in a minute, then try and beat that score. However, if your vision starts to get spotty, or if your instructor starts to notice the rhythmic panting in the corner of the classroom, we suggest something a little more subtle.
2) The name game: Look, you know everyone’s name in your class. During your obligatory icebreaker you learned everyone’s name and arbitrary anecdote, all of which you probably forgot within the hour. So try and remember. All you need is a notebook and a pen, pencil, crayon, or some sort of writing utensil. Start by going down the rows and naming everyone based simply on their immediate appearance. So the chubby blonde girl with the pigtails could be Peggy and the fratty meat-head in the corner with the popped-collared American Eagle polo could be Chaz. Have fun with it. After all, you won’t talk to them outside the classroom anyway.
What do you do to pass the time in class? Shoot us a line and let us know. It’s a long school year, after all, and we’ve got nothing but time.