I was asked by a longtime friend to talk to his high school business classes about the benefits of social media for business.
"It'll be six classes, 50 minutes each. You can give the same lecture each period."
Fifty minutes? Easy, I thought. I could talk for hours on the uncapped potential of social media.
I agreed and started to prepare. I put together my thoughts and found the data and sources to back it up. When I was almost done, it occurred to me I would be talking to kids. So maybe I should tweak it a little. That will take just a minute.
Hours later, I had created something that stood a chance at interesting the typical teenager. Or so I hoped.
Turns out I don't remember all that much about being a teenager and couldn't even really remember the last time I had talked to one.
I arrived a few minutes early and was introduced to some people in the office. Teachers were more laid than I remembered from my days as a student. It actually felt nearly the same as talking around the coffee pot at the office.
We walked down the hall towards Joe, I mean Mr. Basinger's, classroom. We set up and I sat down to finish my coffee, thinking to myself, “This is easier than I thought."
Before that coffee hit my lips and my mind finished that thought, a shrieking pitch poured into the room. "What the..." I jumped.
The bell! I had forgotten about bells. Ok so it had been a long time since I was in school.
The door opened and they sauntered in. They were talking to each other, a few glanced my way, but they mostly ignored me.
Suddenly, I was flashing back to high school speech class. It was like the sight, sound and smell of these teenagers had triggered something in me and I wanted to go home.
Before I realized it, Mr. Basinger was introducing me.
I looked out, and where I have grown pretty accustomed to seeing politely smiling faces of professionals, I was instead looking at half asleep, somewhat disheveled teenagers.
I spoke on and kept scanning the room. Finally, I spotted a friendly face. She was actually looking up, smiled at me, and then went back to reading the slide behind me. God bless that girl's parents! She was engaged, or at least faking it! At that point I didn't care.
One. One kid out of thirty. And she may have been just faking. Maybe this gig isn't quite that easy.
I was still droning on when the shriek returned, again catching me off guard. The students jumped to their feet and were halfway to the door before I realized it was that bell again and class was over.
That was fast.
Round 2. I was a little more comfortable and found another friendly face. I actually finished before the bell this time.
Round 3 was a little better. This set of kids was younger, and surprisingly, more engaged. They asked questions which I was really excited about! Until I called on them.
I quickly learned there is no way to prepare for what might come out of their mouths.
Before long, every time I called on a kid was I was nervous. I was either going to have to restrain a laugh at a kid attempting to be inappropriately funny (and usually was), hide my confusion at a kid who appeared to listening to a different lecture all together, or stumble through some kind of answer to a kid who asks me something I had no answer for.
A few times, a quiet voice would speak out with an idea or question that was exactly what I had hoped for! It was thought provoking, engaged and contributed to the conversation! In those seconds, I felt a little pride and could see why so many people are unforgivingly passionate about teaching our children. I also realized those same people are far better at getting those results than I am.
For a professional who is used to having dozens of significant accomplishments a day, it was hard to swallow the fact that I had only successfully completed my job a few times. This really wasn’t easy at all.
The day with students finally came to an end. I sat down and my body was physically exhausted. My mind was beat. In typical female character, I hung on to every lost look, every kid nodding off in the back of the room, every blank stare. I questioned how teachers stay so positive and passionate day after day.
I looked to Joe, who was smiling at me, almost laughing. I felt like I had been run over by a truck and I am sure I looked it too.
I didn't have to deal with parents, or social issues, or behavioral issues. I didn't have any meetings, I didn't have any before or after school activities. I didn't have to deal with the government, testing or counseling.
I only had one lesson plan. I only had to be there one day. And it was easier than I thought. Right up until the first student walked in the door.
Oddly enough, after a full day of rest, I find myself hoping to have the opportunity to do it again some time.
Kate Lambert grew up in northern Illinois, not on a farm but active in FFA and showing livestock.
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