Day 18: Driving Miss Daisy

image by Sarah Joy

Today I must come up with a metaphor for teaching and/or teachers as part of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge.  I’m struggling with this one.

I’ve thought of several that seem like good ideas at first, but don’t really work after some more consideration.

I’ve resisted reading any other posts by fellow 30-day blog challenge-ees.  I know once I get one of their great ideas in my head I’ll never be able to get it out.

So I’m still thinking . . .

I did some laundry, made dinner, chatted with a friend, talked to my son, and now I’m back at my computer still drawing a blank.

Here’s an idea:  Teachers are like chauffeurs.  I don’t know what made me think of this, but a long time ago I worked as a chauffeur for a fancy Italian restaurant in a city where I taught.  I drove a white 1957 Bentley that had bad brakes and a tendency to overheat.  It was one of the best jobs I had.  I worked most Friday and Saturday nights.

My shift went something like this.  Dress in black pants, white shirt, bow tie, white gloves, cap and jacket.  Drive my Toyota pickup to the restaurant.  Grab the keys to the Bentley and an address.  Pick up the clients.  Bring them back to the restaurant for dinner.  Drive home in my pickup, watch TV and wait for the phone call that the clients were eating dessert.  Drive back to the restaurant and bring the clients wherever they wanted to go for the evening.  Sometimes it was a play, a bar, or even back to their house.  I was paid for all of the hours, including the time spent at home watching TV, and usually received a substantial tip.

image by Jim Knowles

As a chauffeur, I really had to cater to the clients’ needs.  Some wanted me to play the one tape of classical music that my boss provided, others wanted me to find a radio station that played hard rock, while still others provided their own cassettes.  Some wanted me to remain invisible, others asked me all kinds of questions and even needed advice from me.  Usually it wasn’t clear what they wanted, but I had to figure it out by listening and observing very carefully.  I always knew to stay silent if they started making out in the back seat.

One night a man had even planned an elaborate proposal that he explained in great detail to me. I had strict instructions to not say anything, unless things weren’t going well and he thought he could use my help.  After listening to him speak for the twenty minutes it took to get to his girlfriend’s house, I was secretly hoping she would say no.  I thought she could do better.  She ended up not giving him a yes or a no, and I ended up having to cheer him up on the long ride home.

What on earth does this have to do with teaching?  I cannot connect everything I mentioned above, but I think some of it does apply.

  • As teacher, many of us are dealing with outdated materials or equipment, like my overheating Bentley, but we make do with what we have.  We improvise and make it work.  
  • All of us must cater to the needs of our students.  We have a wide variety of needs and interests in our classrooms.  What works for one students does not always work for another, just as with my clients in the back seat.  Some students need more direct intervention than others.  We patiently observe and listen to our students to learn how we can help them.
  • We try to give each and every student a first class education, regardless of their background, abilities and any challenges they face.  
  • Just as I drove my customers around town, we take our students to places of interest every day through field trips, on the Internet, or simply with a good story.  
  • We help students through disappointments.  We help them to cope and encourage them to keep trying.  
  • I loved the chauffeur job and its challenges, just as most teachers would say they love their jobs.  
  • Finally, we occasionally receive tips, but not in the form of money.  We might get a thank-you from a student, or a letter from a former student, or sometimes just a smile from a child who we rarely see smile.  These are our small victories.  

While driving the Bentley, I sometimes felt like a teacher, a mechanic, a social worker or a psychologist.  These are all roles teachers can relate to.  That is why teaching is like being a chauffeur.

Comments (4):

  1. Anonymous

    September 19, 2014 at 01:59

    Great connection! Excellent comparison to being that vital "guide" who gets students to their destinations.

  2. Unknown

    September 19, 2014 at 02:24

    That is very true Tim! I like this analogy!

  3. Tim

    September 19, 2014 at 22:41

    Thanks for reading. I appreciate the comment!

  4. Tim

    September 19, 2014 at 22:42

    Thanks, Khadija! Being a chauffeur was like being in another world, just like teaching is now.


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