Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over the Lazy Dog

Yesterday, my students were taking a quiz in class. I sat at my desk, responding to an email. Typically, students hear the typing of computer keys and assume that the teacher is not watching. They take that opportunity to talk or cheat or do something really silly. And, as if on cue yesterday, as soon as I started typing my response, one of my boys reached across the table to try to win her attention by stealing the pencil from her hand.

Before his hand even made it off his desk, I had called him out with a "Hands to yourself, Mr. Taylor" and told him to get back to work, all without stopping my typed response. He stared at me incredulously for almost a full minute, waiting for me to finish what I was doing. After the quiz was over, he asked me if he could see what I had been working on because he didn't believe I was typing "real words". I couldn't show him because it was a work email about another student, but I asked him if he'd like to test me.

The whole class watched as I sat at my laptop, transcribing his words without stopping. They were in awe that I could not only type without looking at keys but that I could also correct my mistakes without going back to look at them.

I am an excellent typist. Mainly, I'm an excellent typist because I had an excellent typing teacher. And, yes, I took typing. On an actual typewriter. It was the dark days, indeed.

Coach Smith was our small school's art teacher, typing teacher, and head football coach -- a man of many talents, if you will. He referred to us as his Sweathogs, a nickname I have forever loved and continue to use at times. He also was sneaky-brilliant. See, I was a bit of a perfectionist at schoolwork then, and in order to correct something on the typewriter, you had to stop, backspace, insert a white-out strip, re-type the mistake, backspace, and type the correct letter, word, or sentence. Making mistakes was a time-consuming and irritating process, so I had a terrible habit of looking at my keyboard. This would elicit a reprimand of "eyes up, Nazworth" from Coach Smith every time.

Even if the man was reading the newspaper, he seemed to catch me.

And then one day, he sat a new student across from me. That student happened to be his son, Spencer, who happened to have the most gorgeous eyes on Earth. Now, I honestly don't know if Coach sat him across from me because it was the only open desk or because he knew I wouldn't talk to him (I was super-awkwardly shy AND a rule-follower while Spencer was an uber-popular cool kid). My guess is the latter, but what happened was I never looked at my keyboard again. I didn't necessarily stare at him, but I made sure to have my head up just in case I could sneak a quick peek or in case he needed to borrow a white-out strip. I didn't want to make mistakes, and I didn't want to miss a chance to gawk, so my only option was to become really, really good at typing.

And I did. Good enough to catch students doing all of the things they're not supposed to be doing when they assume I'm not looking.

See what I mean? Sneaky-brilliant.

So yesterday, as my class called out tricky words and phrases, trying to mess me up, this is the story I told. And then I reminded them that teachers really do always know what's best when it comes to seating charts.

Then I moved Mr. Flirty to a seat across from the starting center on the football team.

I'm kind of sneaky-brilliant too, now. Like I've said before, I learned from only the best.

(For all of you who haven't been exposed to the greatness that is
"Welcome Back, Kotter")

No comments:

Post a Comment