Cold Snow

The weather was finally getting chilly and I wore one of my favorite sweaters with a new clasp. I hurried toward a building that I was unfamiliar with to meet the instructor of my class. As a woman of the world,  I know that there are people in the world whose purpose is to feel superior to others, but I never thought it would be a teacher.

The class that Mr. Snow was teaching started out differently than all of my others. It was scheduled to start later in the month than every other class due to the fact that the instructor was not available until then. Mr. Snow obviously thought a lot of his abilities and made it clear that he would be the authority in class. He handed out a very difficult schedule of assignments and readings during the 1st class. Those who weren’t enrolled in time had to beg others to borrow the page for a long enough time to copy down the coursework because Mr. Snow wouldn’t give out anymore copies. It seemed a little harsh but Mr. Snow must have thought he was training us correctly.

The good thing about it was that I could look ahead and try to keep up with the well-written schedule. There seemed to be a lot of pages with each reading and I had not cracked open the text yet. I was envisioning some late nights after the kids had gone to bed, trying to keep up. Mr. Snow himself did not seem to be a friendly type and held himself fairly rigidly at the front of the class. It was a little like a classroom from grade school with the strict teacher in command. The one thing I had really enjoyed about college was the absence of being a kid. Adults having heady conversations was a big break from my daily routine of questions about tooth brushing and picking up socks.

My classmates were very quiet and there wasn’t much moving around. Mr. Snow’s demeanor suffocated the room. It was going to take a lot of energy to stay alert enough to do well here and my stomach was hurting a little from a small knot that had formed in the base of it. Mr. Snow started his first lecture; he was an expert on the subject and from time to time would point to the students in the front seats to ask them questions. It seemed closer to an inquisition than a classroom and I was relieved that I didn’t get called on.

After the class, everyone filed out without speaking and traveled in separate directions in the hallway. I had another class to get to in a few minutes, so I checked my schedule and headed to another building. I knew the campus pretty well at this point and knew where I was headed since this class had already started last week. But I had a recurring dream of showing up in the wrong classroom. Knowing me, I would probably sit there until the end of class before being confident enough to admit my mistake and leave. I reached my destination and again double-checked the paper attached to the door to check the subject and the teacher’s name. I knew I was going to enjoy this class; Lucy was teaching and I looked forward to more of her discussions on writing and even wanted her criticism. Her gentle nudges last semester had guided my writing in the right direction, once I let go of the embarrassment of being criticized. And I improved. She had assigned some initial coursework during the last class.

As I sat down, I noticed that the man next to me looked familiar. He smiled and quietly asked me what I thought of that last class. He must have just seen me in Mr. Snow’s classroom. I rolled my eyes and told him that I had never experienced a teacher like that. Before he got to say anything else, Lucy breezed into the classroom like fresh air. She warmly greeted the class and smiled my way. Now, that’s the way a teacher should be.

That night, I sat alone doing my reading for Mr. Snow’s class. I was determined to do well in my classes, even if it was hard. I wondered about the kids and their relationships with their teachers. I remember being afraid of certain teachers in grade school. Children are good at sharing that kind of information and creating good nicknames for teachers that make your stomach have knots. Maybe I needed to create a nickname for Mr. Snow to help describe him and the way he made me feel. It felt childish but might put a better spin on my feelings. I probably should check in with the children tomorrow to see how they like their classes. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in my own learning that I don’t pay attention to the other learners in the family.


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