I taught special education once. I wasn't very good at it.
After teaching for about two years, I drove across the bridge to the Bronx one September morning, only to find my services were no longer required, I decided I would look for a job in Queens, where I lived. Only when I went to the Queens hiring hall, the secretary there showed me a room full of teachers sitting in wooden chairs. She said she had to place every one of those teachers before she could help me.
Things looked bleak. I called the UFT. They told me they were sorry, there was nothing they could do, but when I got tenure I'd be glad they had this policy. Of course now that I have tenure they no longer have this policy.
Anyway I put on a suit and walked into every high school in Queens. I went to every department, and talked to anyone who would listen. Finally I found the special ed. AP of a high school who had a position she was desperate to fill. She sent me back to the hiring hall with a letter promising that I would only teach English to the special ed. students. When the secretary approved me, I went back. The AP told me I would be teaching music and math.
On the brighter side, she gave me a book of lesson plans for the math, and it was things like adding negative three to positive nine, just about my level. When we got to the Pythagorean theorem, I got a real math teacher to explain it to me. Two students complained to the math AP that I didn't do any work, and that I made them do all the problems on the board. He observed me, and gave me a great writeup. He said he wanted all his teachers to make the kids do the work.
My music classes were OK, but not great. They had a bunch of guitars in various states of repair, and they paid for some instruction books that I picked out. But I had a couple of girls in the back who never paid attention, and were constantly talking to one another. We were in a science room. I was behind a big, long black table, and the students all sat behind black tables.
One day, the girls were talking nonstop, and I was behind the big desk. I stood up on the desk, walked across the tables all the way to the back, bent down and asked the girls politely to please quiet down. Then I walked back across the tables, resumed my place, and continued as though nothing had occurred. My 12 students were fairly gobsmacked, having never seen a teacher do that before. It seemed to make an impression, because the girls never disrupted the class to that extent again.
I was in the cafeteria a few months later, and I met another teacher, who asked me my name. I told him, and he said, "Oh yeah, you're the guy who walks across the tables."
It was very odd. There were only a dozen kids in that class, and no adults. Yet word got around.
A few months later, I grabbed a job at another school, teaching ESL. 25 years later, I'm still doing it. I don't walk across tables anymore, but I may be known for even worse things. You never know until people tell you.
Stories herein containing unnamed or invented characters are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.