This week I've been reminded that English teachers are a fraternity of sorts. We don't have any secret handshakes I'm aware of, no mystery-cloaked induction rituals, but we're bonded by similar interests and experiences, ones that to outsiders, like, say, those in the math fraternity, often appear peculiar (as if anyone in that fraternity has any room to talk).
But we don't all share the same level of enthusiasm for our group. Some of us like it well enough to maintain our membership but hold out hope a cooler fraternity will someday ask us to join. Others of us area active members who read up on the literature, attend the meetings, and embrace our few creeds but whose interests extend beyond those things. Then there are those of us who are zealots. We wear our fraternity apparel each day and sleep in it every night. We don't just know the know the lingo, we coin new lingo and write books about it. We don't just admire those teachers in inspirational teacher movies, we are the teachers those movies are about.
Which sort of English teacher are you? Well, I've developed the self-assessment below to help you find out. It's all very scientific, of course.
When the school year ends, you
1 - don't waste a single thought on teaching until you stroll through your classroom doors in August.
2 - relax, travel some, and mull over your plans for the coming year a week or two before it starts, saving the lesson planning for in-service.
3 - aren't aware the school year ever ended. Does it really? You've got conferences to attend, pedagogical books to read, and units to write.
If you won the lottery, you
1 - would call your principal at 11:00 at night when you found out and scream ecstatically, "I quit! I quit! You can take your differentiated instruction and shove it!"
2 - would quit, but you'd come in the next day to say goodbye to everyone, maybe donate a small amount of your winnings to your school, then travel to some of the places you've spent years reading about but have never been to.
3 - would keep teaching with no thought of ever quitting. You think you'd get bored if you quit. With part of your winnings, you purchase class sets of each of the novels on the Modern Library's Top 100 list, send your prized students to writing camps, and attend at least two Harry Wong seminars a year.
1 - are all lazy, stupid punks--with the exception of one or two.
2 - can be lazy, stupid punks at times--a few just are--but you like them and they like you. You enjoy teaching them--even mentoring some--and you gain satisfaction when something you've taught them sticks.
3 - all have the potential to wind up in a Norton Anthology someday; you just have to nurture them and help them discover their inner writer.
If you could do something besides teach, you would
1 - find whatever career paid the most.
2 - pursue a career in the arts or something related to travel.
3 - This is a stupid question. I'd never even consider doing anything else.
When someone makes a grammatical error in writing or conversation, you
1 - don't even notice. Who cares about grammar?
2 - occasionally correct the person if it's someone who know well. If it's a casual acquaintance or a stranger, you let it slide. If it's one of your administrators, you get a few laughs about it later with your department colleagues.
3 - correct the person immediately. Each grammatical error is a crack in the dam that holds back the flood of stupidity and illiteracy that threatens to destroy our country.
When you have time to read books not related to your curriculum, you
1 - don't read anything. You just spend your days on Netflix catching up on movies you've missed.
2 - might read a serious book occasionally, but you prefer something lighter or something from the best seller list/beach-reading fluff.
3 - choose a novel with some literary heft. There are classics and critically-acclaimed novels you haven't read. Why would you want to read much of anything else?
6-7: You're an inactive member. If you've been inactive for a while, it's probably best to join another fraternity.
12-13: You're an active member. You're not consumed by the fraternity's activities, but they are important to you. Barring a windfall or a change of heart, you plan on being an active member until you retire.
14+: You're a zealot. Some fraternity members find your passion inspiring while others just think you're deranged. You don't care what anyone thinks, though. You were put on this planet to teach English! Our fraternity needs a few people like you, but you can't expect everyone else to share your level of dedication.