New Kid

By, Alex Grennan

 

As a new teacher, I am always sort of nervous. I don’t look like the other teachers do, and I’m never sure if they or the students respect me. I’m young, that’s part of it, and my mohawk and bicycle probably don’t help much.

One morning not long ago I was biking to school like I have all autumn so far, admiring the ever changing colors of the leaves on trees lining the trail. As I was losing myself in the magic world of chlorophyll and hibernation, I started feeling the pat pat pat of steadily increasing rain drops. Snapped back into reality it sunk in that I hadn’t even thought of wearing my rain gear today.

Drenched, when I got to school I locked my bike to the newly installed rack outside and hurried into the teachers restroom to change out of my soaked bike clothes and into my teaching outfit. My teaching outfit? At least I didn’t call it a costume this time. This is not me, I’m just tricking everyone into thinking I’m a teacher. I hope I can trick myself into believing it as well.

I look in the mirror, and my hair is a mess, I’m a mess. Maybe I can sneak out, call in sick. No, I’ve come too far. I recite my affirmation “Zach is a badass”. After the third time I believe it enough to reach for the doorknob.

Realistically, most people think my hair is always a mess, but the kids seem to like it. A lot of them have even been coming in with their own little mohawks lately! Sadly, I won’t be a trendsetter today, if I ever was. Gripping the doorknob I shake my head to get the water out of my eyes, pat my hair down, and hope for the best.

Maybe this isn’t all bad, maybe the teachers take me more seriously, my hair almost looks normal. I look almost normal.

I close my eyes, open the door, and walk down the hallway as calmly as possible. I check the schedule. What luck, today I hang out with, I mean, teach, the two year old class. They get me. Our first activity of the day is signing time. This is my shining moment, the one part of the curriculum my co-teachers have given me control over.

Everyone sits down on our circle spots, and just when I’m settling in and believing I have everyone fooled and no one would notice anything different about me that day, I hear a squeaky voice attempt a whisper, asking my co-teacher “where is Zach’s seahorse hair?”.

The teacher stifles an awkward giggle, refusing to fall into the trap of “fun” while reminding the student “we don’t talk during signing time”. If only I knew the sign for seahorse at this moment, I’ll look it up when I get home. Just for good measure, my co-teacher gives me a quick scowl and went back to awkwardly fingerspelling the alphabet. That kid and I, though. We share a moment.

That’s it, I belong at this school. From now on I’ll teach an animal of the week at signing time. I already know what next week’s will be.