Being a teacher was Plan B. Plan A, working in the spa of a high-end casino in Atlantic City, culminated in being laid off en masse alongside 35 of my fellow massage therapists in the down economy of 2008. With little confidence that I could teach my craft to a new generation, I nevertheless applied for a teaching position at a massage institute in Philadelphia. My doctored-up resume worked and a few short weeks later, there I was standing in front of a class of bright-eyed adults embarking on a new or second career.
I needed to pull a few caffeine-induced all-nighters to re-educate myself before being unleashed onto a new class. Recalling my Air Force husband’s military adage, “proper planning prevents piss poor performance”, I prepped night and day, wrote notes, and familiarized myself with the forgotten material.
On my first day of teaching, I pushed aside the words “blind leading the blind” and turned the page of our school textbook. I was not going to let my rusty anatomy and physiology get the better of me. Even though I had been successfully practicing massage therapy for 12 years, I couldn’t remember all the muscle nomenclature, the functions of the liver, or that the Latin for big toe was hallux.
My Plan B seemed to be working because, day by day, I became the competent teacher I professed to be on my resume: imagine that!
Some of the science was mind-numbingly boring and, to keep myself entertained at work, I invented creative ways to present the new and sometimes complicated information. My philosophy of teaching was, If I am not having fun, my students are not having fun, so we played Jeopardy and dodgeball, sculpted muscles out of Play-doh, and made color-coded flashcards in arts and craft class.
I would read out loud, “The longest, strongest bone in the body.”
They would shout out, “What is the femur?”
That A & P sunk in; teacher and students were duly entertained and we were successfully redefining education.