Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit my daughter’s class, as the Mystery Reader. The job of the Mystery Reader is to choose a children’s book (mine was The Phantom Tollbooth), write three clues about yourself (mine were 1. I grew up in Arizona, 2. Like my daughter, I love cats, 3. I am a professor who teaches computer science), and then show up on a Friday afternoon prepared to read parts of the book to the kids in the class. As it turns out my clues may have been too easy, since every kid had guessed who I was by the time I walked in the room. But that didn’t stop us from having a great time. Kids get more fidgety while you’re talking, so I made sure to interrupt myself every few minutes and ask them a question (“Do you know what animosity means?”). But they are also way more enthusiastic than even the most engaged college student, so it was loads of fun to spend time with them.
It also made me realize that I don’t get a teaching high just from university classes. I spent the entire rest of the afternoon floating through my tasks after reading for the kids. The weirdest thing for me as I thought about it is how much I would have dreaded public speaking when I was younger and how much I simply can’t get enough of it now. I was almost painfully shy as a child, and while it got better when I was in my 20s I would have never imagined that a job involving regular and extended public speaking would have been the right choice for me. And yet here I am, looking forward to every opportunity I have to direct a group of people through something. It’s so hard to see what your future holds.