By Lnn Moncus
Because another English teacher and I have been doing a lot of visiting about our profession and our love thereof, I have spent an exorbitant amount of time recalling some of the wonderful experiences I had during those 34 years and have been a bit amazed to be viewing that time as if it had happened to someone else.
Our ever-lengthening lives cause us to pause as we look back at the segments into which they seem to be divided. As we inspect those segments, we may really feel that we are viewing someone else’s life, and in a sense we are because we have moved from segment to segment, changing with each one.
Obviously, we are no longer the youngsters we were when we romped through the canyons, or marched in the rodeo parades, or were major pranksters as high school students. We look back and smile at the various antics we pulled and at the fun we had. We may even take time to look at some of the serious events we lived through during our youth.
We then proceed to view our professional lives, those adult lives that gave us the chance to grow and to become respected members of our various communities.
My teaching career, for instance, was also divided into segments, each of which was both separate and at the same time related to my learning to become an adequate teacher. The first segment was that year at Forrest and the beginning of it all when I learned how very little I knew about our profession or about the numerous subjects I was assigned to teach. The next segment was spent in town at our junior and senior high schools, and the serious business of becoming a teacher began to spur me forward to do more than to make an appearance in class.
The major segment was spent on campus at New Mexico State University and thereal beginning of learning to become a teacher. Being surrounded by outstandingprofessors made me much aware of my limitations and made me want to become a respected member of our profession. I had prepared lectures during those early years, but I had never worked for more than a few hours on any one preparation. Boy, did change come about in one big hurry when I learned how little I knew about preparing a formal lecture that would hold students’ attentions for an hour or more and that wouldn’t put all of us to sleep during the first five minutes.
By working hard on each lecture for each class during the 25 years on campus, I was just about ready to begin delivering adequate lectures when I retired. By watching and listening to the outstanding professors, I learned much about the need to be fully prepared and to be alive during each performance.
As one outstanding professor pointed out, any good teacher has to be part ham in order to keep the classes alive and to create a comfortable atmosphere in which both learning and teaching could take place. She underlined the importance of laughter during each class and the need to reach out as if we were talking directly to each student in the class. Being part ham was already fairly easy because those lively pranks as a youngster had set the stage for being able to cause laughter and to keep the time from dragging too dreadfully. Whereas, we might be presenting information about one of the dullest authors in existence, we needed to be able to rise above said dullness in order to give real meaning to what the author was trying to say in such a dreadful manner. That particular trick took quite a bit of skill and a lot of thought, but it paid off and gave both sides of the desk an opportunity to appreciate the words so carefully presented in such a pedantic manner.
Of course, the last segment for this woman from lma is retirement, and we won’t go into all that has or has not transpired during these years. Let’s just say life has been great from the beginning!