Friday, January 9, 2009

Student Teacher, Part 5

Next day, after taking attendance of the first class – the smart ones – I noticed something missing.
"Has anyone seen Miss Tygart?" I asked, attempting to mask my anxiety.
Scanning the innocent, wondering faces, I detected a few smirks. Someone snorted. A giggle rose and burst like a bathtub bubble.

On my own, I plunged ahead into Chapter 6. Brown-noser and Perfect may have actually read the chapter. Most others had probably just scanned the Cliffs Notes. Most of my questions were answered by deadly silence, punctuated by the metronomic tick of the clock above the blackboard. Toward the end of the period, my patience began to wear thin.
"Look, you're being asked to read only one chapter a night," I said. (Groans. Rolling eyes.) "You people are in for a big surprise when you get to college. Some book like this, you'll have maybe three days to read it." (Contagious yawning.)

The merciful bell rang, and in the clamor for the door I shouted "Chapter 7!" at them in complete futility.

With a free period between my classes, I made my way through the rapids of the crowded hall to the teachers' lounge for coffee and a smoke. I'd hoped to see Miss Tygart there and to get some reassurance that she'd be in my next class, the more unruly of the two, but she wasn't. In fact, for the next three months, I would rarely see her again. Occasionally, I would glimpse her in the teachers' lounge, sitting in a corner away from the smokers, eyes closed, slowly rubbing her temples. She would monitor only a handful of my classes for the rest of the semester.

"She's practicing for retirement," the shop teacher told me with a chuckle one day as we sipped lukewarm coffee from white disposable cups stuffed into brown plastic holders. "She's got one foot out the door."

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