Mario Villalobos

First Day Teaching

Teaching is challenging, and I think that’s why I’m going to love it so much. Before I co-taught my first class, I met with the drama teacher in the morning, and we went over the few ideas I had. One of them was having the students break off into pairs and read the first scene of the Social Network. It’s a great scene, and what I loved about it was that it had both a simple setup — two people sitting by a table in a coffee shop — and very complex dialogue. There’s so much going on in this scene, and like typical Sorkin, it’s written very entertainingly. I wanted the students to read the scene a few times and start writing notes beside their lines with action verbs. Each line, I told them, isn’t always delivered straight on. There’s subtext behind the words. A character’s tired or timid or angry. Each emotion will result in a differently delivered line, and I wanted the students to start thinking about that. That was my first project with these kids, and I thought it would be fun and that the students would jump up on their seats and yell with joy and happiness and sprinkle confetti all over me and say how awesome this was going to be, but they didn’t. They sat there with blank looks on their faces and a jaded demeanor that I wanted to slap away.

These are just high school students from a very small town in Montana. They’re not college students. College was so dominant in my head that I don’t remember anything before it. I graduated from high school over ten years ago, and I don’t remember what it was like in my classes. Maybe I would have acted exactly the same way as these students if someone like me came into my class and the first thing he did is tell me to read a ten page scene from a movie and expect to act it in front of the class within a week. I wanted them to memorize the scene, but the drama teacher told me that would be too much for them. Last week, I told her I wanted them to write a five page scene, but she nixed that idea, too. Hell, along with this project, they’re also practicing reading a children’s book to the kindergarten class. I’m not sure what they’re supposed to be learning from this, but it’s something they’re doing and will be graded on. I’m going to have to rethink my game plan going forward with this class, but I’m okay with that.

This is my first ever class. I’ve never taught anything before, and I never thought I’d teach anyone ever. Surprisingly, I’m enjoying it. Like I wrote a few days ago, the best way to know something is to teach it. As I’m on this journey toward becoming a better writer, I know how important I have to treat this class. I’m not only teaching a group of students what I love, but I’m also learning a lot about myself the craft I love so dearly. I just hope I can evolve from wanting to slap them to wanting to hug them. A man can dream, right?