Mr. Williams was a great inspiration to me in the classroom and I strove to be like him as the teacher he so passionately portrayed in “Dead Poet’s Society”… As my students and I had our own version of DPS, his passing reminded me of a post I wrote a long time ago about my students, myself and my epilepsy. I thought I’d repost…
(a reflection by Megan Davis)
I’ve mentioned before the awkward moments with my high school students and for 10 years I blamed it on migraines, coffee (which is partially true) and just being “too excited about the novel we’re covering”. I would start to feel that floaty tingling in the middle of a lecture and forget where I was in my speech. I would crack a joke about getting old (I was 33 btw) or quickly segue into an impromptu partner assignment to give me a moment for a Megan-to-Megan chat. Many a times, I’d be sitting on my stool, amongst my students and my eye would start to “twitch” (blink uncontrollably) and the students would laugh when I’d say- see how exciting literature can be?! lol Those moments were not forgotten and I would have at least a handful of students ask me about “my crazy eye” each new school year. Again, I’d joke and they would come to get used to those episodes like every class before them. I look back on those times and miss them; those auras and twitches actually made for some pretty funny moments that went from awkward to endearing. When I told the students about my severe migraines (untrue- I’ve never had one) most of them looked concerned and would ask if I needed something or partake in my joke to put me at ease. They say kids can be cruel, and unfortunately that is often the case, but lucky for me, my “kiddos” always seemed to possess tremendous compassion. I was truly blessed.
There were times, in the morning when I was rushed and the stress would make me lose control of my body movement and I’d tell myself to put my coffee down and my arm wouldn’t listen. Invariably, I’d end up spilling the coffee on the floor or on myself and the students would stare but we’d move forward. It didn’t happen everyday for me, but it did happen often. Often enough where I could’ve shared my story, but I didn’t. Looking back, I don’t know why. I could’ve educated them, made them see Epileptics, and people of all afflictions, can be intelligent, witty, funny and accomplished. For me, according to the majority of my students, humor and wit allowed me to be effective in the classroom, just as it helped me deal with seizures. And I think because of my ups and downs, I was more apt to incorporate real life into my lessons; literature’s messages as applicable today as they were when created. Epilepsy should’ve been included. Perhaps during Julius Caesar- my personal favorite accomplished Epileptic.
I think part of those episodes really did stem from too much enthusiasm being in the classroom! Lol And although I’m sure they didn’t realize it, my “kiddos” gave me strength to be my best for them, and inspiration to let go those awkward moments. As I think about what I’m trying to do now for Epilepsy awareness, I remember all those special memories and smile… they’re still giving me strength.