January 19, 2016

That'll Be "Mr. Cackling Hen" to you: Hen's Classroom!

Let's learn about sports and race!
The Cackling Hen is becoming a teacher! Call it a noble career change, a poor life choice, or a midlife crisis, but I'm out to educate America's youth! Maybe one day I'll have a world-wide education program and my own education system, but for now, I'm getting my ducks and hens in a row and applying to teaching jobs in the Sunshine State. I'm set to put Florida back on the map for education instead of gun violence and chewed-up faces.

I have been interested in pursuing teaching for years, and since leaving Hens on Ice, it just took one scary job interview to frighten me into actually doing it. Hearing the words "profit margins" and "office" from a man in a suit had me flapping immediately out of his dingy office and onto the Florida Department of Education's website. Please tell me what to do so I never hear "profit margin" again.

Some of you may be interested, some of you confused, and some of you hungry. That's been the general combination of reactions. And this is why I write this article; people's initial reactions when I say "I'm pursuing being a teacher" have been an unexpected mixed airplane sickness bag.

Your degree is stupid!
I'm not new to adverse reactions to my life choices. When I graduated with a Sociology degree, some people chose to tell me I wasted 4 years of my life and threw thousands of dollars down the toilet, in "The Rudeness of Strangers." (Apparently you like articles where I suffer the most.) their own polite ways. But it made a great Hen article in

As the topic comes up in conversation, I've been surprised by the initial reactions of some friends, acquaintances, and strangers. I'll preface that I've had overall support, excitement, and cigarettes from those who matter most, and no one wishes ill-will on me (unlike the characters in "The Rudeness of Strangers!"). BUT, I have dealt with looks of shock, eye rolls, and snide remarks about America's youth, none of which I experienced applying to PR jobs or Hens on Ice. If I can pursue careers in the corporate office or children's ice shows in peace, why not as an educator?

Reactions at a glance to becoming Teacher Hen:

  • The startled look, like I just yelled, "WATCH OUT!" 
  • The "good for you," followed by a negative comment about the pay, the state of youth, or the state of Florida. 
  • The shock, the eye roll, followed by a sarcastic "good luck." (Do you hope I fail? I hardly know you.)
  • The confusion... Why?
  • The shock and tears that these plans don't involve skating with Hens on Ice.
I'm not fishing for people to gush about my new career pursuits and midlife crisis, nor have these few interesting reactions outweighed the overall support and excitement. But, I have been surprised that I've felt the need to defend my decision multiple times in conversation. 

I see these reactions not as a reflection of the individuals (except that one jerk who rolled his eyes!), but as a reflection of where education stands in our country. I go into this sadly knowing and accepting that the importance of our education system in the U.S. is not nearly where it should be in our society's priorities. It baffles me that education truly and directly shapes our country's future, by creating the people who will be the adults in charge of society, yet it's an afterthought and non issue as I listen to politicians talk about problems in this country. There is a huge admiration for celebrity, entertainment, and sports. There is an admiration for teachers as well, but a different kind, a kind of admiration so different, that rarely is it questioned how a football player should make 10 million dollars, and a teacher should make $40,000, which is not even 1% of that athlete's salary. One entertains us with an athletic game we love (Go Bucs!), and the other has a direct impact on if their students will become educated world leaders and innovators, or uneducated criminals. One gets beat up, tackled, hit, spit on, and yelled at in front of an audience; the other is a football player. 

I'll flap down from my soap box on education and society. I'm clean enough. I'm excited to get my wings on the young minds of America. I embrace the challenge, and to the haters still concerned for me: check in over my summer vacation. Maybe I'll tell strangers I'm a football player.

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