Physics Teacher Kate

Early in January, I applied for a part time teaching job at a private enrichment school on the north end of the city. I’ve always wanted to be a teacher, but I’ve felt that being transgender my future in teaching was dim, especially in high schools. Nevertheless, within a few days of submitting my resume, I got a phone interview on short notice, then a couple of days later, a face-to-face interview. Not surprisingly, the school has never hired a transwoman before, so they didn’t know what to do with me. I was nervous as hell at the interview, until the second part of the interview, when I gave a mock lecture on the wave property of sound. At the front of a classroom is where I feel the most comfortable, and I think my passion (and my skills?) for teaching were on full display. I got an offer to teach their Grade 11 physics class on Saturdays, mostly on the strength of my Ph.D. and that mock lesson. I was skilled enough, well educated enough, and charismatic enough (as I found out later) to have done better than other candidates.

I wasn’t scheduled to start until February 7th, but within days of being hired, I received a call asking if I could substitute one night for their Advanced Placement Physics class. Like my own Physics class, AP Physics was also on Saturday night. I didn’t comprehend why anyone would want to learn physics on Saturday nights, no matter how keen they are, but hey, why not. (Back when I was a teenager, I would have dinner with my family on Saturdays; when I was in university, Saturday nights were when I got dressed up as a girl.)

Believe it or not, the night before my first day at work, I was struggling to find the right clothes to wear…in a closet full of clothes. Talk about first-world problems!

Turns out the class went very smoothly. I gave my lecture, did a few example problems, and everything was finished after 2 1/2 hours. Time really seemed to fly by, and I was only vaguely self conscious about my rather masculine voice. Despite all my worries ahead of time, the evening was quite anti climatic.

The repeat performance came a week later, when my own Physics 11 class started. Walking into the classroom with 15 teenagers, I was more nervous than even at my interview. After all, those were the students that I would be seeing for the next 15 weeks, and I felt more pressure to make a good first impression. I stumbled a few times, both figuratively and literally (my heels didn’t help), but judging by how my students laughed at my stupid jokes, I think it went okay. All those years of doing presentations as a grad student and postdoc must pay off eventually.

And to avoid having to worry about what to wear, I decided that I’d always wear a conservative wrap dress every night. First World problem solved!

(More stories to come)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *