Thursday, July 22, 2004

life of buddy don, chaptur 124: teachin my furst class

in the summer of 1981, i gut to teach a english class all by myself fer the furst time. i had dun parts of classes with the hep of reglar instructers durin my furst year of grad skool, but they dint allow ye to teach a class all yer own till ye had made it thru the furst year. me n emily dint wonta go find no minimum wage entry level jobs fer the summer n we luved skool, so twuz only natcherul how we wood take classes n all. thats how i cum to have a summer class.

as ye know ifn ye been payin much tenchun to whut amurka valus on the basis of whut tiz willin to pay, ye know that teachin is bout at the level of takin orders at mack donalds. i reckun that could be on a counta how tiz a reeward all by its ownself. ye wurk long hours n take wurk home with ye n give up a day or two of ever weekend to gradin papers n makin lessun plans, but whenever ye walk back tords yer home at the end of a day, ye git a grate feelin that ye dun sumthin good fer the worl. ifn twernt fer that, we wood probly have to cum up with a way of payin our teachurs a lil bettern we do. but as they say, we gut other priorties.

the way they wurked it back in the 80s at utk, ever freshman had to take three english classes, witch they wuz organized thisaway: furst quarter, ye teach em basick composishun -- how to rite 500 wurd essays using the followin forms: deescripshun, narrative, compar n contrast, process or how to do sumthin, argument, n so forth. the idee wuz to teach yung riters how to put together evidents to prove sum kinda point, witch they name that point the thesis. i lacked teachin this class on a counta ye had a chants to teach folks how to make good arguments based on bleevabull evidents. ye dint teach em whut to thank, but ye had to teach em how, lease to sum extent.

innywho, frum the instunt i gut in frunt of my own class, i knew i had dun found the thang i could do bes in life. i wood be a'doin it today ifn it wood pay a livin wage, witch it dont cum close to the wages they pay fer janitors n seckataries n cumputer tecks. i larnt that a few years later when i wuz near broke n went up to new york city, a'thankin i could git better money fer teachin than i gut in tennessee, but twernt to be. thay wuz jobs fer folks who had good english n could type, so i gut a job as a secketary n made near twice the money i made fer teachin. aint that a good deal fur amurka?

thang bout teachin a class is tiz all bout yer students, so heres a lil deescripshun of whut my students wuz lack that furst class, wurkin my way round the class frum the feller that sat in the furst seat on the far left row of seats, witch that wood be mark bandy:
  1. mark had a crooked nose n a habit of speakin outta only one side of his mouth, witch that made im look a lil sarcastic or even ironick, even tho he dint have no talent fer usin or even understandin irony atall, so his crooked nose wuz hepful in makin him look lack he wuz intelligent. he writ on the sorriest topicks ye kin magine, lack the differnts twixt two gurls, witch he lacked the one but not tuther. he had problems with cumin up with a real sentence on a counta he dint have no good idee whar one sentence ended n the nex begun. mark gut im a 'c' mark frum me.
  2. in back of mark wuz steve adams, a roly-poly kid with a greasy face who knew plenty bout cars n nuthin bout ritin. he wuz one of my three 'no-credits,' witch tuther two dint even show up. steve wurked hard to ne effeck on a counta how he refused to face tht fack that a cumplete sentence has gut to have both a subject n a predicut.
  3. tuther steve, steve harrison, sat behine steve adams. he wuz a verr tall feller with too minny muscles to be able to sit cumfterbull, intense brown eyes n the look of sumbidy that jes mite go over the deep end by sundown. he knew more bout farmin than i speckted ye could know. he gut off to a verr slow start on a counta how he wuz hamperd by whut they call dialeck innerferents, but he gut to whar he masterd most of the thangs i wuz trine to teach im. he earned his 'c.' turnt out we had the same birthday n twuz a sprize to larn how he had im a fee-on-say n wonted to drop outta skool n git marrd, witch i wuz smart a nuff fer once to keep my mouth shut n let im make his own miss takes.
  4. next row we had jake mitchell, witch he wuz steve adams' bes friend n a solid 'b' student. he had a grate maginayshun but chose terrbull topicks. he wurked hard on them papers, but he wooda gut nuthin but 'a' marks ifn he wooda chose better subjecks. fer eggzample, he cum up with the idee of usin coke vs. pepsi fer his compar n contrast, but he couldnt cum up with nuthin to say bout em ceptn how he lacked coke better, witch he couldnt even splain thatn more specifick than, 'it tastes better.'
  5. back of jake wuz a nuther steve, a tall feller with lank black hair n vlue eyes. he wuz a 'a' student all the way -- chose grate topicks, had a vivid maginayshun, n wurked verr hard to make his essays the bes in the class. he writ at lease four 'readabulls,' witch i calld essays that wuz good a nuff to read out loud a 'readabull.' he wood call me up mos everday to discuss his paper topicks n organizayshun n approach n he wuz thonly student to attempt usin irony. whenever the class ended, he give me a note to thank me fer wurkin so hard to teach im.
  6. perry manor sat behin steve. he wuz a broad sholderd feller built kindly lack a bull. he picked the mos difficult topicks, generly relayted to current events such as the riotin in england, the strength of nato or the ability of the us to defend itself in the pershun gulf.
  7. behin him wuz a puzzle of a lass name of carol chivas, witch she had huge dirty blue eyes n messy hair. seemed lack she had loads of abilty, but she wudnt a'gone unload nun of it fer my class. she wuz hopin to becum a air traffick cuntroller n writ sevrul times bout the controversy when raygun fired em all. she wuz wise fer her age, hated bein treated lack a kid n tended to see thru the pretenshuns of her feller students. she wuz the definishun of yer no-nonsense type n she gut a 'b,' even tho she coulda gut a 'a' purty easy.
  8. wilkie martin wuz frum seymour tennessee n sat in the frunt of the nex row. twuz the middle row n i thunk of it as the trubled row. he wurked  verr hard, struggled agin a thick ackcent n his yung look, witch he wuz a lil immature but knew how to rite correck grammar n such. that gut im a 'b.'
  9. rose edmunds wuz a wild lookin blond with dark brown eyes, too much paddin, n too much makeup. she sat behin wilkie fer the furst half of the class n then jes disappeard. i never could figger why. her daddy wuz a dentist n she rote sum vivid deescripshuns of gory dental procedures. she gut a 'nc.'
  10. pete barinson wuz a golfer n older student with stiff brown hair n blue eyes. ifn he showed up, he sat behin rose. he dressd lack he wuz jes bout to go play 18 holes ever time he cum to class, cumplete with sun visor. he rote bout nuthin but sports n wood call me at home after he had dun disappeard fer a cuple days. i had to hep im a lot, witch he cum thru with a 'c.'
  11. rite smack dab in the middle of the hole class wuz a rich gurl name of wanda jeffries. wanda had her a long pair of legs, witch ye could git lost without a map jes a lookin at em, n twuz no sprize how she wonted to be a dancer sumday. she wood wear the latest fashuns, smile a lot, rite terrbull prose n pored on the makeup on a counta how she dint lack havin freckuls, witch that only cuverd up how beeyootiful she coulda been. but she wurked verr hard. i had a policy whar ifn ye gut a 'f' on a paper, ye could rite a nuthern. i musta red three of hers fer ever one by innybidy else, witch she really earned her 'c.'
  12. nex cum her bes friend, nancy thomas. nancy wuz one of the bes students in the class. she wuz polishd n poised n rote perfeck but pointless prose. she wuz lack her frien in how she cuverd up how purty she wuz with way too much makeup.. she had her a boyfriend, witch they wood be standin outside the class a'huggin n kissin till the las mint. then here she wood cum in a big hurry a'wearin a smile to pall gize fer bein late. we had us a majur problem durin the class, witch i caught her plagurizin. she cunfessd so i dint make nuthin more of it. she gut a 'c,' witch she figgerd twuz charity, but twuznt. she coulda gut a 'a.'
  13. my biggest problem sat behin nancy, wtich his name suz paul richardson. he wuz verr white skinned, sweated a lot n couldnt keep his oily black hair outta his verr black eyes. his mane problem wuz how he woodnt never foller the assignment. he wonted to eggspearmint with langwage, witch that led to pages without predicuts, verb forms without precedents. he wurked hard on terrbull topicks lack whuther green wuz green to everbidy or looked differnt to differnt folks, witch he couldnt never figger how to splain how he knew how color looked to nobidy besides his ownself. he cheated once when i had caught him jammin two sentences together with nuthin but a comma, witch the tecknickull term fer thatn is a comma splice. after i had dun graded the paper n dinged im fer the miss take, he put a lil period over his comma n then cum with the lie that he had put in a semi-colon all along. i shamed him to his face after that, only twuz in private. i sed i wood be happy to read his paper to the class as a warnin bout whut ye orta not do, witch that shut im up, but he wuz mad whenever he gut a 'c,' witch that wuz a gift frum me to him.
  14. next cum harvey daniels, witch he wuz older, a vetern of the navy. he always cum in late a'haulin a motorcycle helmut. he had acne trubles n wonted to grow a mustache so bad that he let his ten or twelve whiskers grow till they wuz long a nuff fer im to suck em into his mouth or twirl em together sos they looked a lil thicker than they wuz. twuz a odd thang fer such a smart, aware, honest feller to do. he earned a 'b' n coulda dun better. he rote bout motorcycles in ever essay ceptn one bout bein fleeced in a memphis strip joint.
  15. sittin in the frunt seat of the nex row wuz karen williams, a chubby gurl with a perpetchul smile on her face who sat suckin on her pen n gazin wide-eyed at me. she barly made a 'c.' cute, lovabull, karen sufferd frum havin been razed in a verr shleterd environment whar she thought a car wuz a necessaity fer 'youth.'
  16. nex cum morton benjamin, a tall dark-skinned dummy with terrbul pimples n greasy black hair cut in bangs. he wuz one of them fellers that lacks to tinker elecktronick deevices n pull practicull jokes on folks. he dint have no imaginayshun n had to use sharee jeffersons paper topicks in order to git a 'c.'
  17. rusty roberts sat behin mort. he wuz a chubby one with bright red cheeks, bright blue eyes n clean curly brown hair. he wurked at tv 26 n ever paper wuz about tv, witch he gut a 'b.'
  18. the mos innerestin student in the class wuz a woman frum lebanon name of juliana abdul, witch she wuz older tuther students by bout a decade n mad as a wet hen at the worl. she lived at the ywca, wore tatterd shoes n raggedy cloze n kep quite as a mouse durin the class till the verr end whenever we discussed jonathan swift's a modest proposal. all of a sudden, she cum to life n hepped me show the rest of the class how that lil essay had significunts in modern amurka. she wuz marrd to a arab she hadnt never met on a counta he needed to git his green card, witch she gut trips to greece n palestine outta the deal. she gut a 'b' n needed to wurk a lot on her ritin, witch she had thangs wurth sayin.
  19. nex cum sharee jefferson, a verr skinny, brown eyed gurl with mousy brown hair n the common problem of usin too much makeup. she dint have no imaginayshun but she had the rules of grammar down cold, witch she wuz the classick 'b' student. when i pall gized to her fer allowin mort to copy her paper topicks, she anserd, 'of that mort! he's so crazy.'
  20. my las 'a'a student wuz a gurl name of neely lawrence. she wuz a verr shy gurl who wuz a lil too plump. she hadnt never once writ a essay befor cummin to utk, but she had red gone with the wind twelve times n dozens of other books, witch thats how she larned to rite so well.
  21. cam russell cum nex, witch he wuz a lifeguard that looked lack a surfer with dry blong hair, freckles n bright blue eyes. he had the bes intenchuns but wuz too lazy to do much about em. he loved to preach teh gospel in his papers n used grate eggzamples n wonted to cunvert me. he earned a 'b,' even ifn he couldnt rite no 500 wurd essay in class.
  22. finely thay wuz mindy crouse, a beeyootifull brainless gurl with honey blond hair, brown eyes and a mouth that she kep half open all the time in a stoopid gapin eggspreshun all the time. she rote so minny long borin essays that it makes me sleepy to thank back on it. seh conquerd her pernischus problems with subjeck-verb agreement, so i give her a 'c.'

once that class wuz over, i had me a real good feelin. i knew i had dun sum good, even ifn these kids wuz more spoild than i could know till i had been out teachin a lil more. twuz my furst class, n ifn me n miz bd has the money whenever tiz time to reetire frum wall street, i plan to teach a class or two. i wisht i could afford to doot now.

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