People talkin' sh*t but when the sh*t hit the fan, everything I'm not made me everything I am. ---Kanye West, "Everything I Am"
I had a horrible realization today that was completely inevitable. I wish I could say that I didn't see it coming, but I know that I did. I mean, it's something I've sort of embraced, but I can see that it will be an obstacle (and maybe a blessing?) in my teaching: I am utterly uncool.
When I say uncool, I mean perpetual nerd. I love Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter and you WILL lose a trivia game against me. I read about three books at a time and there's a giant, leaning tower of books on my nightstand of to-reads. I'm talking about a work-a-holic who gets excited about wordsearches, crossword puzzles, looking up new words, and unit planning. I watch as many documentaries as I do t.v. shows in my Netflix queue. I love to learn. (Learner is my #1 strength according to Clifton Strengthsfinder. Achiever is number two. Weird, right?)
I'm also talking about how uncool I was in high school. Straight-A, teacher's pet, overly-involved, going-stag-to-senior-prom uncool. I had ZERO fashion sense (no interest in that sort of thing 'til college...thankfully things have changed). I lacked a sense of rhythm and a set of good, reliable tweezers. Fortunately, I think that this part of my past can hide safely from my students, brushed under a rug of "let's steer clear of these kinds of questions, kids," as I sheepishly move the conversation in a different direction.
Here I am, as close in age as I will ever be to my students, yet I am finding that I can't even connect with them on the most basic level. Major failure there, Starfleet. To grab their attention one day, I threw a picture of Megan Fox in the middle of my powerpoint. That was my first attempt to show them that I am human, even if I am completely repulsed by her. I tried to use pop culture references such as Anchorman or Zoolander, but gosh, even those movies are dated. So then I tried to reference Jackass 3 after one of the kids was talking about it, and, to put in the words of Ralphie from A Christmas Story, "They looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears."
I know that not too many high schoolers are going to get excited about King Arthur on their own. But hopefully I can make it interesting enough for them to look at me and think that I'm cool for trying to make things interesting. Maybe the fact that I'm not graceful, hip, disorganized, obsessed with sports and dating, aka everything that is cool and important to a high schooler will somehow help me create an interesting learning space. Everything that I'm not still made me everything I am. I'm proud of me, and for once in my life, I'm actually comfortable with who I am, even if my students can't appreciate it.