For the June 14, 2021 KGUA radio Morning Writer’s Hour hosted by Mark Gross and Peggy Berryhill in Gualala, California, now that we are taking off our masks, we are asked to freewrite on What MASK have you worn or do you still wear?
If it weren’t for masks, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I still wear the I like to think I know what the hell I am doing mask. As a high schooler, my mask got me through being nervous before a tennis match, a big test, or especially when giving a speech. Fake it till you make it.
Mask-wearing served me well when I first I interviewed to be a university professor. Let me explain.
Having burned out after twenty plus years teaching in public schools, I enrolled at the University of New Hampshire to earn the golden ticket (a PhD) to teach at the university level.
After three years of graduate classes, oral and written exams, and writing and defending my dissertation, I needed a job. Hannah had been doing the heavy lifting of full-time work as an activities coordinator at a local nursing home.
At my interview at Eastern Connecticut State University, among other things, I was asked if I could teach the secondary education methods class in Language Arts and Reading.
Mask firmly in place and eager for a tenure-track position, I said absolutely. Though I had never taught high school English, I had successfully taught high school English teachers in a UNH Summer Writing Program.
But behind my mask was a philosophy of teaching that would serve me well no matter what I taught: one, I taught experientially (that is, having students have experiences that replicate what they would do in the classroom), two, focused on building relationships with students, three, developed a classroom community of learners, and four, participated with my students and learned with them.
Fact is, it all worked out pretty well at Eastern, and my mask got me in the door.
Words – 284